Each day in Washoe County, children are abused or neglected in tragic ways that are often not visible to the public. Sometimes this abuse or neglect comes at the hands of their parents or guardians, forcing law enforcement and social services to remove these children from their home and place them into foster care, often with caretakers they have never met. This trauma takes a tremendous toll upon these children who will experience an array of emotional and behavioral responses. These children are also experiencing secondary losses that include living with unknown caretakers, the loss of their permanent connections to their extended family and friends, and the lack of information about their family after removal. With limited information, these experiences pose a challenge to a child’s ability to adapt to their new living environment and an ability to trust that adults will be there to provide love, protection and guidance…a forever family.
Washoe CASA is an example of how community citizen volunteers make a difference for these children as advocates in Family Court proceedings. Appointed by the Court, a CASA volunteer ensures that the Court has all the information needed to make the best decision for that child and asserts the child’s right to a safe and secure home with caretakers who will provide that lifelong permanent connection. Once assigned to a case, CASAs become an official part of the judicial proceedings, working alongside attorneys and social workers as an appointed officer of the Court. Unlike attorneys and social workers, the CASA volunteer speaks exclusively for the best interests of the child(ren).
The vision of the CASA program is to provide a volunteer advocate (a CASA) for every abused child within the Washoe County Family Court system. This gives each child a better chance of returning to or being placed in a safe and secure home as quickly as possible.
The goal of the CASA program is to develop strong community partnerships that support quality services for children, encourage volunteers and create greater public awareness of the CASA program. We look forward to continuing to serve the children of this community in a positive way.