CASA of Northeast Ky, Inc. was started in 2000 by the Honorable George Davis, III, and Foster Care Review Board Chair Christy Reaves.
The legal community embraced the program by donating office space, equipment and supplies to get the program operational. National CASA approved membership and awarded the first operational grant, and staff was hired. Many community members have volunteered in an advisory capacity serving on the Board of Directors and various committees.
Today, we are self-sufficient through various fundraisers and grants.
We employ four (4) full-time staff and utilize work-study programs through local colleges and universities while also accepting practicum students for their coursework requirements. Today, the CASA offices are located in the Boyd and Carter County Courthouses.
We are a United Way agency and feel very fortunate to have the community and judicial support needed to sustain the program in a very overburdened non-profit world all these years later. We are grateful for the support of our local foundations such as Foundation for the Tri-State, Mansbach, Steven Salyers, Billy Ray Cyrus, and OLBH who have remained consistent sources of support since our inception.
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Kentucky, Inc. FAQ
What is CASA?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of an abused or neglected child in court.
A CASA provides a judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make sound decisions about the child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child or children involved. The CASA must ultimately determine if it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster or relative care, or be freed for permanent adoption. The CASA makes a recommendation on placement and services to the judge and continues on the case until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
How does a CASA differ from a Children Service’s caseworker?
Social workers may work on as many as 25-33 cases at a time, which can limit the amount of time available for a comprehensive investigation of each. The CASA is a volunteer who handles only one or two cases at a time. As an independent appointee of the court and a party to the case, the CASA thoroughly examines a child’s case, has knowledge of community resources, and is required to make recommendations to the court based on the best interests of the child. Unlike the caseworker, who has a legal mandate to try to reunify families, the CASA’s mandate is to advocate for the best interests of the child. A trained CASA and a skilled caseworker are both critical to a successful case.
Can anyone be a CASA?
CASAs are ordinary citizens, twenty-one years of age or older. No special or legal background is required. However, volunteers are screened closely for objectivity, competence, and commitment.
What training does a CASA receive?
CASA trainees undergo a thorough one-time, 33-hour training. Volunteers learn about courtroom procedure from the principals in the system: judges, lawyers, service providers, caseworkers, court personnel and others. CASA trainees also learn effective advocacy techniques and are educated about specific topics ranging from child sexual abuse to early childhood development and adolescent behavior. Cultural awareness and sensitivity are also part of the training curriculum. The culmination of the initial training is the swearing-in ceremony with the Juvenile Court Judges where CASA/GAL volunteers become sworn officers of the Court.
Following the initial training, CASAs are required to complete 12 hours of In-Service a year to remain active with cases.
How much time does it require?
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10-20 hours doing research and conducting interviews during the first 4-6 weeks of a new case. Once a CASA writes his/her initial report and appears at the first hearing, he/she can expect to work about 1-2 hours per week on a case.
The CASA continues on the case until the case is permanently resolved. Each volunteer is asked to make an initial one-year commitment to the program. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other case principals who often rotate cases, the volunteer is a consistent figure in the court proceedings and the child’s life, providing much-needed continuity for the system and, more importantly, for the child.