THE PROBLEM: OVERWHELMED COURTS
In 2018, 674 children were served in foster care in Berks County.
On average, a child will spend 2 years (20 months) in foster care.
Many foster children will change homes 3 or more times
THE SOLUTION: CITIZEN VOLUNTEERS
1 CASA Staff member supports 30 volunteers that serve 75 children
One year of CASA advocacy costs less than 2 months in foster care
The Results: Brighter Futures
A child with a CASA volunteer is:
More likely to find a safe, permanent home
50% less likely to re-enter the foster care system
More likely to succeed in school and less likely to be expelled
To provide a competent, responsible, and compassionate court-appointed community volunteer to advocate for each child who faces abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment; our goal, to restore their well-being and ensure the eminent right to a safe, nurturing, and permanent home.
OUR VISION: SERVING EVERY CHILD
We envision a safe and positive future for all children facing abuse and neglect to break the cycle through the provision of support to become healthy, empowered adults.
41 CASA volunteers help change children’s lives every day in Berks County
54 abused and neglected children had a CASA volunteer speaking up for their best interests
Over 500 children are waiting for a volunteer to be their champion this year
CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children in Berks County who have experienced abuse and neglect.
LEARN all you can about the child and his or her family life
ENGAGE with the child during regular visits
SPEAK UP for the child’s best interests in court
COLLABORATE with others to ensure necessary services are provided and in the child’s best interest
REPORT what you have learned and observed to the court
What’s the difference between a CASA volunteer and a GAL volunteer?
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer represents the child's interest in the court. He or She receives 30 hours of training, is sworn into duty by a judge in Berks County Courts and has the power, granted by the judge, to review any and all documents pertaining to the child, such as medical records, caseworker records, school records, etc.
GAL or Guardian Ad Litem is a lawyer who is hired by Berks County Courts to be the child's legal representative
Both advocate for the best interests of children in court as a result of abuse or neglect
Who are our volunteers? how are they prepared?
CASA volunteers are regular people, from all walks of life, who have been rigorously screened and trained extensively
Each volunteer receives more than 30 hours of training before they work with a child, with an additional 12 hours of continued education required annually
Volunteers receive ongoing support to help them advocate effectively on a child’s behalf
How are CASA/GAL volunteers different than social workers, attorneys and others working with children in court?
CASA volunteers are assigned to only one or two children or sibling groups at a time
Our volunteers stay involved on the case from the time of appointment until the child achieves permanency
CASA volunteers visit their assigned child/children twice a month, furthering their relationship with the child, observing their care and education, and listening to the child’s concerns.
CASA volunteers are specially trained to consider issues relevant to the best interests of the child, which may be different than the child’s wishes or the interests of other parties.