CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate for Child Victims

 In Counseling & Support
Child giving a smaller child a piggy back ride. Text overlay - Court Appointed Child Advocates (CASA) in North Idaho

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate for Child Victims

History of Court Appointed Special Advocates

In 1976 Idaho passed the Child Protection Act with requirements for court-appointed representation for children and youth. In 1980, Judge Richard Grant approved a pilot guardian ad litem program in Ada County. The program officially accepted it’s first child into the program in 1982. From 1889 to the mid-1990’s, a guardian ad litem program was established in all seven Idaho judicial districts. Each program became an incorporated 501(c)3 and adopted the program model of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association.

What is CASA?

The mission statement of the 1st Judicial District serving Kootenai, Bonner, Benewah, Shoshone and Boundary counties is to recruit, train and support a diverse network of Court Appointed Special Advocates to represent and advocate for abused and neglected child victims (age 0-18) in North Idaho.

Nearly three-hundred Kootenai County children are removed from their homes due to abuse, violence or neglect each year. As mandated by Idaho statute, each child is appointed a CASA Advocate to serve as their voice in court, represent their best interests, help them recover from the trauma they experienced and help find them a safe, secure and permanent home.

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The CASA Advocate is the one person who has consistent, frequent access to the child. It is critical that volunteers are qualified and highly trained. During their investigation, they visit the child, develop a relationship with them, witness their stories and become part of their lives. As medical providers and social workers come and go, access to family members fluctuate and schools and neighborhoods change, the CASA Advocate is the constant in their lives. These children trust and depend on the Advocate to end their suffering and ensure their safety.

Nationwide, CASA Advocates not only support the children, they save hundreds of dollars in child welfare costs alone. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average cost for each child victim in $210,000 over the victim’s lifetime. But more than 90% of children with CASA Advocates never re-enter the child welfare system, a significant success rate. By reducing long-term placements, subsequent victimization and reentry into the foster care system, CASA substantially reduces child welfare costs.

In Kootenai County, the child welfare system could not afford to provide a comparable level of advocacy through a non-volunteer approach. The increase in the number of children being appointed an Advocate puts a strain on our existing Advocates and resources. With case numbers continuing to rise, it is critical that CASA recruit and train a substantial number of NEW Advocates every year.

How YOU can help

Have you always wanted to make a difference in the life of a child? YOU could be the voice for child victims. CASA trains, supports and encourages ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference. These children live in your neighborhoods. They deserve a safe and secure home. They are the future of our communities.

To find out more about scheduled trainings and other events, visit: www.northidahocasa.org or call 208-667-9165.

by Kristin Ludwig, Director of Development North Idaho CASA

Kristin Ludwig, Director of Development, and CASA team member has over 20-years experience in event planning, advertising and marketing. After moving to Coeur d’Alene in 2005, she quickly became involved in local volunteer organizations and political campaigns, advocating for the good of the community. She has worked with the Coeur d’Alene Backpack Program since it’s inception, designing the website and implementing social media campaigns. She has been the lead planner on Wine, Women & Shoes for Idaho Youth Ranch for the last 5 years and has acted as Sponsorship Chair.

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