Court Appointed Special Advocates
CASA, our Court Appointed Special Advocates program, is a shining example of how ordinary individuals can have an extraordinary impact and bring hope to children in our community.
The Franklin/Hampshire CASA Program provides a voice for the best interests of children involved in abuse, neglect and other challenging cases. Friends of Children is a member in good standing with the National CASA Association and the Massachusetts CASA Association.
CASA volunteers meet children where they are, identify their specific needs, and ensure their ongoing well-being with the goal of permanency in a safe, stable home. Our volunteers, through their advocacy, provide a consistent presence in each child’s life. CASAs truly do change the course of the lives of vulnerable children.
CASA volunteers must be 21 years of age or older, have transportation, and pass a background check. Our CASA volunteers are provided with an extensive training and orientation program. Following training, they are appointed by a judge to step in to advocate within the courtroom and the community. Volunteers also receive regular supervision and opportunities for future inservice trainings.
Impact a young person’s life forever
“Volunteering for CASA is rewarding because it allows a lot of creativity in solving problems that have adversely affected children’s education and development.
I have excellent support from my supervisor. She is always available to discuss ways to support children I work with when their families find themselves in an unexpected crisis. It is tremendously satisfying to collaborate with children, their caregivers, educators, and DCF to ensure children will have the confidence and education they need to pursue their individual goals in the future.”
– Stephanie Davis
A quality education is essential for any child and is a basic human right.
CASAs collaborate with teachers, caregivers, counselors, and school district staff on behalf of children in foster care. They support the foundation of academic progress and educational experience. Some examples of how CASAs support youth are aiding with a transition to a new school, supporting children with special education needs in navigating the IEP process, and understanding a child’s rights in regards to school discipline.
We also support and encourage youth in meeting their goals for higher education. College or advanced vocational training is often elusive for children in foster care. Learn more at The Pew Charitable Trusts about some of the obstacles to higher education experienced by children in foster care.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Only about half of youth in foster care finish high school
- Children in foster care are much more likely to need special education
- Less than 2% of youth formerly in foster care complete a bachelor’s degree before the age of 25
How do CASA volunteers impact a child’s education?
Volunteer CASAs may support a child’s educational development by...
Include essential information about a child’s educational situation in court reports.
Ask the child how they like school and about how they like the quality of their education.
Document concerns and discuss them with the teacher.
Help to facilitate enrollment and transfer of records if a child moves to another foster home.
Advocate for making up work for time missed for court appearances or medical appointments.
Learn about age-appropriate developmental milestones.
Recommend tutoring if needed.
Identify a child’s strengths and recommend academic and extracurricular activities.
A CASA STORY
Before her CASA intervened, “Sarah” lived in many foster homes.
She had been removed from her mother’s care due to drug abuse and neglect. At the time, Sarah’s behaviors included dangerous tantrums and other acts of aggression. The court was concerned that the instability of her living situation was taking a toll on her health and well-being.
The judge appointed a CASA to help determine whether or not Sarah’s needs were being met. As the CASA got to know Sarah, it was apparent that she was a bright child with great potential. One of the first things her CASA volunteer did was passionately advocate for the right setting. She helped to identify a relative that was willing to welcome Sarah into her home, thus helping to stabilize her placement.
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