During the course of one year there are over 400 children from Bergen County in the foster care system. These children are served by state child welfare workers (DCP&P- Division of child Protection and Permanency) from two separate offices. A DCP&P worker’s caseload can be anywhere from 10-20 families. In addition these children are represented by an attorney called a Law Guardian from the Office of Public Defenders. Each Law Guardian has a caseload of anywhere from 50-100 children.
Unique to CASA, is that volunteers are assigned to only one case; either one child or one family of children at a time. This allows the volunteer to devote an enormous amount of time to that one case so that the child does not slip through the cracks of the judicial and/or child welfare systems. These volunteers advocate in court for the children’s best interests – ensuring that they get the services they need, that they are not bounced from placement to placement, and that they reach permanency either with their biological family or through adoption as quickly as possible. In short, the CASA volunteer is an open-minded and unbiased voice for the child in the court process and a consistent and caring person in the child’s life.
- streamlining the investigative and information gathering process,
- improving decision-making for children by making sure judges have all the information necessary in front of them before making rulings,
- enhancing communication and coordination among the various agencies and individuals touching children’s lives, and
- acting as an independent advocate for the best interests of the individual child.
- help locate relatives
- monitor the child’s educational, medical, and mental health needs and ensure those needs are being met
- informally mediate conflicts and work to achieve consensus among people involved in the child’s case
- identify specific needs of the child and family and advocate for those needs to be met in a timely and cost-effective way
- help to ensure that services provided are more effective and targeted to meets the needs of the individual child and/or family