CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the 16th Judicial District, Inc., serves children between the ages of birth to 21 years old who have been adjudicated dependent neglected and are receiving services from the Department of Children and Family Services, without discrimination based on a child’s age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability or religion. CASA of the 16th serves children in Stone, Izard, Fulton, Independence and Cleburne Counties in Arkansas. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and are governed by a board of directors.
Our missionis to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courts. We promote and support quality volunteer representation to ensure that every child has the opportunity to live in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home.
Our purpose is to recruit, screen, train and supervise volunteers who are available for appointment by a juvenile court judge on complex abuse and neglect cases that are active in juvenile court. The program strives to help move children more quickly thorough the court system to safe, permanent placements. Child advocates stay with each case until it is closed (twelve – eighteen months) and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.
Goals and Objectives of the CASA program are to provide expeditious and thorough advocacy to abused and/or neglected children that will lead to permanence. CASA volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears of the court” by providing a detailed account of each child’s situation to aid the judge in permanency planning decisions.
To achieve this goal, CASA volunteers perform four (4) basic functions:
(1) Investigate all circumstances surrounding the child’s case.
(2) Collect all relevant historical information about the child and gather first hand, updated information.
(3) Report the findings and make recommendations to the court regarding placement (short and long term), visitation and services that will serve the child’s best interest.
(4) Monitor the case to ensure that necessary services are received, that Family Service Plans are updated in a timely manner and address the needs of the child and family, and that court orders are followed.
Since its creation by a family court judge in Seattle, CASA has become one of the most effective programs of its kind. Today there are 949 CASA programs around the country. It is a unique blend of private support, public need and the kind of people power that comes from more than 76,000 volunteers all committed to the rights of every child in the foster care and child welfare system.