Mission: Casa stands for court appointed special advocate for children. Casa of the eastern panhandle, inc. Is an independent non-profit organization that recruits and trains community volunteers to advocate for children who are in the court system because of abuse or neglect.
Programs: What is casa? Casa stands for court appointed special advocate for children. Casa of the eastern panhandle, inc. Is and independent non-profit organization that recruits and trains community volunteers to advocate for children who are in the court system because of abuse or neglect. A casa volunteer conducts a thorough review of all case documentation, visits the child whom he/she is appointed regularly (2-4 times a month), identifies the child's needs, and submits a written report to the judge with his/her recommendations on behalf of the child. A casa volunteer helps keep the child safe while he/she is in temporary foster care, and makes sure the child doesn't get "lost" in the system. Why do we need casa? Over the last three years, the child protective services has investigated over 1,400 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in jefferson, berkeley and morgan counties, wv each year. At the same time, the department of health and human services (dhhr) is often understaffed-in some instances working with as few as 5 child protective service caseworkers to monitor these cases, and each worker can be assigned between 50-100 cases at a time. Additionally, the turnover rate at dhhr approached 200% so complex cases are often handled by inexperienced caseworkers. This confluence of problems results in abused children languishing in foster homes or other temporary placements longer than necessary, with their needs not adequately assessed or met. Casa had as many as 40 active volunteers during the course of the calendar year that provided approximately 2,400 hours of service to the organization. These volunteers served 120 children in berkeley, jefferson and morgan counties, wv. Casa volunteers include lawyers, pharmacists, homemakers, scientists, retired entrepreneurs, teachers and business executives who all bring a wealth of experience to their advocacy on behalf of the children. Their commitment to casa includes a 35 hour initial training and 12 hours of in-service training annually. The average amount of time spent on a case is about four hours per week and the duration of a case can be up to two years. Casa volunteers fulfill their advocacy responsibilities by conducting intensive independent reviews of the cases they are assigned that include: - regular visits with the child (2-4 times a month) - review of appropriate records and reports - interviews with children, family members, teachers, counselors, doctors, therapists and other relevant adults - observe the child, their caretakers, and significant others - attend multi-disciplinary meetings and court hearings with the information gathered from the case work, the casa volunteer prepares reports with recommendations to the court. The casa volunteer remains involved after the judge's ruling to ensure that the orders are followed and the child's needs are met and until the child is placed in a safe and permanent home.