Court Appointed Special Advocates
(CASA - a program of Spokane County Juvenile Court)
CASA volunteers advocate for the rights of abused and neglected children between the ages of birth and 17. This is one way the community participates with the social and justice systems to find the best possible solutions for these children.
CASA utilizes ordinary citizen volunteers appointed by the court to represent children in state care. They represent the best interests of children who have been abused or neglected, ensuring that justice is served through the legal system.
Free training is provided by the Spokane County Juvenile Court Services. The days and hours vary. CASA volunteers are asked for an 18-month commitment. That’s typically the period of time from when a child is referred to the program until they are permanently placed, either back with their biological parents, in relative care, or in a foster/adopt home. The majority of children are returned to their biological parents.
We are currently in need of more volunteers to represent children each year who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Ideally there would be one CASA volunteer for every child referred.
CASA sees about 51 children going into foster care a month, and has about 964 kids in care at any one time. The average age of children in the program is around 5 or 6. (Pat Donahue, CASA program coordinator, "Handcrafted Compassion," The Spokesman-Review, Jan. 14, 2017)
- Become a CASA volunteer. Volunteers should be at least 21 years of age, have good communication skills, an insured vehicle, and a valid driver's license.
- Volunteer to advocate for abused, neglected, abandoned children.
- Volunteer to support kids who have been abused or neglected, helping them find safe and stable homes.
- Volunteers are trained four times a year for this program, and alternate 2 different schedules. The training takes 4 full days, two Fridays and Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Commitment depends on schedule. If you are interested, call Susan Cairy at (509) 477-2469, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Volunteers investigate the facts of the case, recommend a course of action to the court, explain the court’s findings to the child and facilitate a resolution, and monitor the child’s progress. Volunteers may be asked to testify in court on behalf of the child, and then monitor the case until the child is permanently placed.
- Volunteers spend time with a child one-on-one. They serve as a fact-finder for the judge by thoroughly researching the background of each child assigned. They talk with family members, neighbors, school officials, therapists, doctors—anyone who is involved in the child’s life. They also work with the child’s attorney (Guardian ad Litem) to determine what is best for the child. Volunteers speak exclusively for the child in the courtroom, representing his/her best interests, and submitting a formal report recommending placement.
- Volunteers continue to act as a “watchdog” for the child during the life of the case, ensuring that it is brought to a swift and appropriate conclusion. The law says a permanent placement for each child will be determined within 12 months. The conclusion will generally determine whether the child should stay with his/her parents, stay in an out-of-home placement/foster care, or be freed for permanent adoption.