The Essential Advocate: Using CASAs to Promote Child Well-Being

By Sheryl Dicker & Elysa Gordon

Courts are a powerful gateway to services that promote the well-being of children in the child welfare system. Judges play a crucial role in shaping court culture and community expectations that a child’s healthy development is an essential component of case review and permanency planning. Yet, achieving child well-being requires resources to assist the court in asking the questions, gathering information, and translating the results of evaluations relevant to permanency decision making. The Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA) is an existing resource uniquely poised to meet this need. CASA volunteers can provide extensive information that would not otherwise be available to the judge. In many courts, CASAs are a tangible link between the judge and service providers working with a child and the child’s caregiver.