On Friday I completed the second day (of four) of my training to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). A Dependency CASA is a trained community volunteer who acts as an advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect and who are the subject of Juvenile Court proceedings. CASAs are appointed to cases in which children are alleged to have been neglected, physically abused, sexually abused, and emotionally abused and/or if a parent or guardian is unable or unwilling to care for the child.
The training is pretty serious and ensures volunteers have enough knowledge of how the entire foster care and family court system works to be an effective advocate. On Friday we focused on understanding the impact of race, ethnicity, and culture in how families interact with their kids.
I’m trying to learn about how the system works from both the top level (we spend XXX on YYY, then ZZZ happens…) and from the street (they do what?) I don’t think I’ll actually be allowed to carry a case given the conflict of interest I have as the eventual manager of the social worker on the case, but seeing how it works (or doesn’t) is invaluable. Particularly compelling was the final video we watched of a graduation from family court in King County, with the return of the kids.
More info on CASA: