CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Kane County is a nonprofit child advocacy volunteer organization.
Let’s clear the questions and confusion about what CASA does, the functions and how CASA programs help to protect children who have been abused and neglected.
What is CASA Kane County’s mission?
Who is CASA Kane County?
How did the CASA program start?
Why is CASA Kane County so important?
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Kane County is a Guardian ad Litem, nonprofit volunteer organization that advocates for the best interests of children in abuse, neglect and private guardianship cases within the Juvenile Court system. CASAs are specially trained volunteers who become the crucial voice of a child.
Relied upon by judges and most importantly, the children, CASAs are among the most respected volunteers and advocates in the community.
If you are 21 or older and have 5-15 hours a month to give a child – YOU can be a CASA!
We believe all children in the foster care system will have a safe, nurturing and permanent home where they can thrive with the support and involvement of their community.
Our paramount value is integrity. Morality, ethics and law each help guide the many decisions made each day. Respect and passion connect stakeholders to the mission. Everything we do is driven by service for the children.
Who is CASA Kane County?
CASA/GAL Kane County has a special distinction as a Guardian ad Litem because volunteers undergo training to become the crucial voice of a child in abuse, neglect and private guardianship cases. Relied upon by judges and most importantly, the children, CASAs are among the most respected volunteers and advocates in the community.
We began in 1988 by concerned citizens and we work independently, but in collaboration with our judiciary, agencies and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to find permanent and safe homes for children in the foster care system. The organization recruits, trains and supervises hundreds of community volunteers that are then supported by 24 professional staff, 25 Board of Directors and 45 Chairman Advisory Panel members.
How Did the CASA Movement Start?
The first CASA program began in 1977 in Seattle Washington by a Judge named David Soukup. He knew more needed to be done in the lives of children in the foster care system. That movement sparked and today we have over 1,000 organizations nationwide.
Who are the Children CASA Kane County Serves?
We serve 100% of abuse and neglect cases originating in Kane County. There are currently more than 560 children or 327 active cases we serve. CASA has experienced a 217% increase in cases since Covid. Though cases may originate in Kane County, as many as 40% come from all over Illinois, particularly the Chicagoland area. Children range in age from birth to 21 and come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. They have been removed from their homes by (DCFS) Department of Child and Family Services because of abuse or neglect. They leave most familiar things and people behind—home, family, friends, and school and find themselves in a world filled with social workers, lawyers, judges and courtrooms where life-altering decisions are being made on their behalf. The majority of children are placed outside of their homes with relatives, in foster homes, shelters or residential facilities.
Why is CASA so Important?
In court proceedings involving abused and neglected children, CASA Kane County provides an unbiased, child-focused point of view that is vital to help determine what situations will allow a child to thrive. In most cases, the children represented by CASA have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. A judge then must decide if a child can safely return home to his or her family or if a permanent home must be arranged to keep a child healthy and safe. When considering the actions of parents or child welfare agencies, it’s the child who has the most at stake and their needs can often be overlooked. The CASA/GAL volunteer and organization acts as the voice for each child to ensure their best interests are in the forefront. Studies show that children benefitting from a CASA stay in school and thrive at much higher margins than those without.
What is the Role of the Illinois and National CASA Association?
National CASA Association is a nonprofit organization that represents and serves local CASA programs at different levels. All CASA programs must pass a comprehensive quality assessment in order to retain their membership status with the national organization. There are more than 1,000 programs throughout the United States and 38 organizations within the State of Illinois. Illinois CASA and the National CASA Association are supportive of local programs and provide valuable information regarding marketing, training and public awareness. CASA Kane County has a distinction as a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) which requires special volunteer training and reporting.
What are Some of the Challenges but Rewards of Being a CASA Volunteer?
Being a CASA volunteer is both rewarding and challenging. The child welfare system is bureaucratic and overburdened, and CASA volunteers often have to work hard to get the system to respond. Because of court decisions, social service plans and other factors out of our control, the volunteer can face disappointments. The biggest reward comes on the day when the child is placed in a safe, permanent home, knowing they made a difference in a child’s life.
What do Volunteers Gain from Becoming a CASA Volunteer?
The most important benefit of being a CASA volunteer is the chance to make a meaningful contribution to the life of a child who desperately needs your help. Many volunteers choose to stay in contact with their CASA “kids” even as they transition into an adult.
Want More Information About Volunteering for CASA?
Take the first step and follow these steps online or attend a General Information Meeting in Person:
Follow the Link to find General Information Meeting Dates and Register:
CASA Kane County is nonprofit volunteer organization advocating for the best interest of children in abuse and neglect situations throughout Northern Illinois. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardian ad Litem) volunteers are specially trained to become the objective voice of a child for a judge.