Dependency & Neglect (D&N)
Volunteers in CASA's Dependency & Neglect (D&N) Program advocate for children who are involved with the Department of Human Services and Family Court System because of abuse or neglect they have experienced at home.
This is the program that most people think of when they hear "CASA" because the volunteers in this program are referred to as CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates).
These CASAs gather information and make recommendations that help judges decide what is in the best interest of each individual child. At any given time, there are hundreds of children in the Pikes Peak Region who are waiting for a CASA of their own.
Please watch this short video to understand the role of a CASA and to learn why these volunteers are so important.
16,000: Number of calls made to the child abuse & neglect hotline each year in the Pikes Peak Region
200: Number of children in El Paso or Teller County who are currently waiting for a CASA volunteer
3 YEARS: Average time it takes a child without a CASA volunteer to find a permanent and safe home
16 MONTHS: Average time it takes a child with a CASA volunteer to find a permanent and safe home
What exactly do Court Appointed Special Advocates do?
Many times, people are confused about what a CASA volunteer's role is. Read what a CASA DOES and DOES NOT do. Once you decide to become a CASA, you'll go through a screening process and initial training which includes topics such as child development, cultural competency, physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, and an overview of the juvenile court process. After that, you will be sworn in as an officer of the court and appointed as an independent party to the proceedings of a Dependency & Neglect Case (which could involve a single child OR a sibling group). As you take on your first case, you'll have the support of an entire team behind you and there will be plenty of people available to answer your questions or help you work through issues. Once you get started on your case, some of your responsibilities may include:
- Visit with the child or children on your case at least twice a month
- Gather information by reviewing documents and interviewing children, family members, and other professionals in their lives
- Attend meetings with other parties (attorneys, caseworkers, etc.)
- Help the child understand court proceedings; Explain what is going on
- Research and investigate all aspects of a child's life
- Direct child and family members to appropriate community resources
- Monitor family compliance with the treatment plan and court orders
- Appear in court to advocate for the child and provide testimony
- Make recommendations to the court through written and oral reports
- Work with Life Long Links Specialists to search for and interview family members to ensure foster children have continuity in relationships, family information, and long-term connections for the future
Watch this video to see how the work of a CASA volunteer completely changed Annie's life.