Richmond CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

Ensuring children are placed in safe, permanent homescasa logo

Be a CASA. Be a child’s voice in court.
To learn more about becoming a Richmond CASA Volunteer, click here.

The Challenge

Each year, hundreds of child abuse and/or neglect cases come before the City of Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Children may have been abandoned, physically abused, sexually abused, or have been the victim of some other form of mistreatment or neglect.

In cases of abuse and neglect, they often enter into an extensive legal process. A number of law enforcement officials, lawyers, social workers and physicians become involved with the child and the family. The cases may last a long time and be complex.  Because of these factors, children may not experience the best outcome, possibly placing them in unsafe homes again. Children may be living with their parents under a protective order or in foster care.  CASA volunteers stay involved with the case until the child is in a safe and permanent home.

By gathering valuable information to assist the Judge in making decisions about the child’s placement and permanency, CASA volunteers help to reduce the time a child spends in the court system and/or in foster care.  Volunteers serve as the voice of children who have been hurt by the people who are supposed to keep them safe.

During the fiscal year 2016-2017, CASA volunteers:

  • Provided advocacy for 217 children to be placed in safe, permanent homes.
  • The Court accepted an estimated 97% of Richmond CASA recommendations into court orders.
  • 100% were placed in homes with the least restrictive environment for their needs.
  • Provided 7,009 hours of service for a total contribution of $182,864 in in-kind contribution.

The Program

Richmond CASA recruits, trains, and supervises competent and dedicated volunteers who advocate for the needs of abused, neglected, and at-risk children in juvenile dependency proceedings. By advocating for children in court cases, CASA volunteers promote safe, permanent homes for all children and seek to educate the community about the needs of abused and neglected children.

CASA volunteers complete 35 hours of intensive training, are sworn in by the Chief Judge as Officers of the Court, and are appointed to cases. Volunteers gather information on each child’s situation so they can determine the needs of the individual child. They submit reports to the court, providing valuable insight into the child’s life and assisting the court in making informed decisions regarding the child’s future.

As mandated in the Code of Virginia, Richmond CASA volunteers communicate with the people involved in the child’s life to collect information and monitor services provided to the child and the family.  CASA volunteers report these findings to the Court and make recommendations for the child and family based on this information. While gathering information about the child’s circumstances, volunteers work alongside social workers, mental health workers, police officers, attorneys, teachers, and physicians, always advocating for what is in the best interest of the child.

In 2016-17, the Court accepted an estimated 97% of Richmond CASA recommendations into court orders.

The History

Richmond CASA was established in April 1990 with the mission to advocate for abused and neglected children involved in the City of Richmond’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court process. In November 2009, the Richmond CASA program merged with Greater Richmond SCAN.

To learn more about how the CASA Movement began and the impact of CASA, please visit National CASA’s website.

 

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