HOW MANY FOSTER CHILDREN DO YOU SERVE?
CASA of Southwest Idaho serves an average of 500 children a year. While we do take on every case assigned to us by our counties’ judges, there are still roughly 300 children every year that go without representation. Our goal is to raise an additional $300,000 annually so that we can reach these children as well.
HOW DOES A CASA SERVE CHILDREN?
Here is the timeline of a typical child protection case, which typically lasts 12+ months:
The judge assigns us a case, and we assign a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). In Idaho, each foster child under age 12 is required to have a CASA, though we also serve teenagers in care when assigned.
Our CASA (accompanied by an Advocate Coordinator) attends every court hearing from assignment on.
Between each hearing, the CASA conducts monthly home visits, investigating the children’s circumstances in their foster home, home of origin, and school.
A week before each case, the CASA compiles all of their findings, along with their recommendations for the children, into a report (often with the help of their Advocate Coordinator), and submits the report to the judge.
The judge takes the CASA’s findings and recommendations into account while making their ruling in the child protection case.
This repeats until either the child is reunified, or parental rights are terminated and the child is adopted.
WHY WAS THE GUARDIAN AD LITEM/CASA PROGRAM FOUNDED?
In 1978, Judge David Soukup felt frustrated as he looked around during juvenile court and realized no one was there to speak for the child. He consistently felt tormented by this, staying up until 4am hoping he had made the right ruling for the children whose lives he had impacted. His concern drove him to recruit volunteers to investigate the children’s cases and be a voice for these voiceless children during these cases that impact their entire lives.
WHY IS ADVOCATING FOR FOSTER CHILDREN A BIG DEAL?
Frankly, it’s a big deal because we’re talking about children. The most vulnerable (and adorable) population on Earth. Foster children in particular are very vulnerable. All of these children have experienced at least one form of severe trauma. As a result of this child trauma, 65% of children in long-term Foster Care develop mental illness; 42% of foster children will not graduate high school; and teenage girls in Foster Care are 250% more likely to be pregnant by age 19. When our volunteers step in, we reduce these same children’s chances of re-entering care by half, and make them 8 times more likely to graduate high school. Put simply, we give them a WAY better shot at life.