By Cheryl A. De Bari
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) ofVenturaCountyis a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that provides a powerful voice in court for children who must be removed from their homes by protective services due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. These children then become dependents of the juvenile court. Although the foster care and child welfare system has many compassionate lawyers, judges, social workers and foster families, according to recent statistics, each year more than 748,000 children are placed in foster care nationally. Trained CASAs work one-on-one with the children as they move through the court process.
Approximately 1,000 children are in foster care in VenturaCounty. This intense need can strain the system to where the professionals are simply unable to protect the rights of each child. With the help of a CASA a child is half as likely to languish in the foster care system and much more likely to find a safe and permanent home (See www.casaforchildren.org, “Evidence of Effectiveness”). However, today, in our county, only a small percentage of the children in dependency have access to a CASA. More than 100 children inVenturaCounty appointed to the program do not have advocates.
Continue reading – January issue of CITATIONS (page 13)
Cheryl A. De Bari is an attorney specializing in insurance and ERISA litigation. She is a VCBA member and passionate CASA.