Organization Information

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

Address:

310 E. Walnut Street Ste 208
Garden City, KS 67846

Contact:

Lori Jacobs, Executive Director

Phone:

620-271-6197

Fax:

620-276-6196

Email:

casa@wbsnet.org

Website:

http://www.kansascasa.org/district25

Coalition Member?

Yes

Service Category:

Child Advocacy

Service Category:

Child and Family Services

Mission

Our mission is to advocate the best interests of abused and neglected children in the juvenile division of the Twenty-fifth Judicial District (Finney, Scott, Wichita, Greeley, Hamilton, and Kearny counties). This includes the provision of trained volunteer advocates who gather information for the court and speak for the child throughout the juvenile court process.

The CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) concept is based on the belief that every child has the right to a safe, permanent home. Unlike attorneys and social workers, the CASA volunteer speaks exclusively for childrens best interests. By handling only one or two cases at a time (compared to a social agency caseworker’s average load of 60 to 90), the CASA volunteer has the time to explore thoroughly the history of each assigned case. The volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, neighbors, school officials, doctors and others involved in the child’s life that may have facts about the case.

The volunteer then also reviews all records and documents pertaining to the child. He or she then submits a formal report to the court-recommending placement: should the child stay with his or her parents, be placed in foster care, or be freed for permanent adoption? If the court leaves the child in temporary care, the CASA volunteer provides continuity by staying on the case until it is permanently resolved. Kansas is divided into thirty-one judicial districts of which twenty-four (24) have established CASA programs. Most judicial districts are inclusive of several counties, and some programs serve more than one county in their respective districts. In 2011, the 24 CASA programs in Kansas supported and supervised 969 volunteers who advocated for 2,225 children. Those volunteers contributed over 60,000 hours of their time to children in need.

Some of the children served by CASA volunteers are victims of abuse and violence; others have been neglected or abandoned by their parents. Many times, these children suffer from the lack of proper nutrition, emotional trauma, and lack of medical care and/or physical injuries. Some are victims of violence, psychological torment, or sexual abuse. These frightened and confused children often become victims of an overburdened child welfare system, which is a complex legal network of lawyers, social workers, and judges who frequently are too overburdened to give thorough, detailed attention to each child who comes before them.

Every year in Kansas, over 4,000 children are placed in Child Protective Services, removed from their homes at no fault of their own CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for these abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system. They stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence—the one adult who cares only for them. Kansas CASA and its 24 local programs are working hard to make sure that every child who needs an advocate to speak for his or her best interests before the courts, has a caring, trained adult to help them through this difficult period of his or her life. In a survey conducted by Kansas CASA, judges reported an increase in the quality (96%) and quantity (89%) of information available to the court during Child in Need of Care Cases. Additionally, 92% of the judges surveyed indicated that services provided to the family are monitored more frequently when a CASA is involved in a case. CASA volunteers play a vital role in the outcome of these cases.