CASA plays a crucial role in assisting New York City's overburdened Family Court to meet the needs of the city's most vulnerable children. Family Court Judges assign CASA to a case when they are concerned that a child is at risk of “falling through the cracks” because they are not getting their needs met while in foster care, at risk of languishing in foster care longer than necessary, or aging out of foster care without housing, an income, or services they need to live independently.
Our small staff of licensed social workers and attorneys recruits, trains and supervises a team of nearly 200 citizen volunteers to give each child the individual and consistent attention that the child welfare system is not always able to provide. CASA staff members carefully match each child’s case with a volunteer Advocate who is the best fit for the child and family.
Advocates work collaboratively with children, parents and family members, foster parents and foster care agencies, attorneys, educators and service providers to develop a comprehensive assessment of the needs of each child. They then work diligently to ensure that those needs are met and that any barriers to a child’s reunification with parents or adoption are addressed. They work to put services in place, cut through red tape and facilitate movement through the system so that children achieve permanency as quickly as possible. They ensure that young people aging out of the system have a place to live, an income, a job or educational program, and the services they need to live independently. CASA advocates are often the most consistent presence in the life of a child in foster care, in a system where caseworkers, attorneys and even foster parents turn over frequently.
Advocates attend every court hearing and provide judges with detailed, fact-based court reports that include a holistic picture of the needs and life-circumstances of these children – to ensure that each family’s situation is truly evaluated on a case-by-case basis. CASA stays on a case as long as necessary - typically until a child is reunited with parents or adopted, or a young adult is living independently.
No other organization exists to advocate in this way for New York City foster youth. Ultimately, CASA-NYC strives to have children discharged from foster care and placed in safe, permanent and loving homes as efficiently as possible.