CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County believes every child who's been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community. To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child's needs remain a priority in an overburdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child's safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what's best for the child.
For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible. According to National CASA, children with CASA volunteers are more likely to receive therapy, health care and education and do better in school, and less likely to be bounced from one place to another or get stuck in long-term foster care. Of the children whose cases we help close, the majority end up reunited with family or living permanently with relatives. CASA’s vision is to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in need in our community. Last year, 900 children still needed a volunteer to speak up for them.
CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn, and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. Volunteers complete an interview, background checks and a 39-hour intensive training program including courtroom observation. After being sworn in by a judge, volunteers are appointed to a child or family of children and spend an average of 15-20 hours a month advocating for these children for the lifetime of a case. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, therapists, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life. Judges highly value CASA’s recommendations which help them make informed decisions in the child’s best interest.
CASA of Travis County was created in 1985 by concerned community members and judges and was the fourth CASA program in Texas - following the creation of the national CASA model by a Seattle family court judge in 1977. In our first year, CASA recruited and trained 43 volunteers who served 85 children.