Enduring Influence of CASA Volunteers in DCPP Cases

CASA: Non-Profit Advocates for Foster Children, Ensuring Their Well-Being when Placed Outside of the Home in New Jersey

Enduring Influence of CASA Volunteers in DCPP Cases in New JerseyIt comes as no surprise that the child welfare system is overburdened, meaning its cases, and ultimately, the children involved in those cases aren’t always able to get the support and resources necessary to improve their situation and keep them safe. The child’s well-being is DCPP’s and the Court’s primary concern. Removing a child from their home and placing them in foster care is a decision that is taken seriously. As cases of child abuse and neglect continue to rise, DCPP’s staff and resources are spread thinner than ever. But the Court can appoint advocates who invest their time watching out for the children’s mental, physical, and emotional health. These advocates buttress the child welfare system as they provide additional support to those who need it most.

CASA Program’s Commitment to Advocacy for Children in Foster Care

The Court Appointed Special Advocates is a non-profit program that advocates for children and adolescents in the foster care system. CASA participants are trained volunteers who connect children to the resources they need to be healthy and grow up in a safe environment. Trained volunteers are assigned to a child or group of siblings in the foster care system who have suffered from abuse and neglect and connect them with the community resources that can improve the child’s outcome. CASA volunteers advocate for the child by making recommendations to the court, such as needed services. They also report any concerns regarding the child or their care. Their goal is to ensure the child they are assigned receives the help and support needed to thrive in a nurturing, permanent home.

CASA Volunteers Roadmap to Advocacy in NJ

A  CASA volunteer must complete 33 hours of training, pass a background check, a child abuse registry check, a sexual offender registry, a fingerprint check, and provide references. After a successful interview with CASA staff, a juvenile Court judge will swear in the volunteer. When a CASA is needed, a judge will assign them to a case.

Diverse Duties of NJ CASA Volunteers

As an advocate for neglected and abused children, a CASA volunteer conducts interviews with the child, their family, and the professionals who are helping them. They attend court to speak for the child’s best interests and submit reports to the court. The CASA member keeps all parties involved up to date on the services the child is receiving and any needs that are not being taken care of. They also present concerns about the child’s mental and physical health and education to the court, being sure to include any deviation that has occurred from the court’s orders. The CASA member represents the child during school meetings or with other professionals regarding the child’s well-being. One of their most important roles is meeting consistently (at least once monthly) for informal visits.

The CASA program encourages a minimum one-year obligation with the expectation that they continue even longer until the case is resolved and the child has been placed in a permanent home. One of the aspects of the CASA program that makes it special is the volunteer is a steady presence, providing stability and continuity for the child.

A Court Appointed Special Advocate’s Exhaustive Inquiry to Ensure Child Welfare

When a CASA volunteer is assigned a case, they conduct an exhaustive investigation. They review all records, research important information, and hold interviews. The child’s social workers, parents, teachers, coaches, DCCP workers, mental healthcare and medical care providers, the child’s lawyer, and family members are interviewed at length to get as much information as possible.

Specifically, the CASA volunteer will visit the child at least once a month. They will attend IEP meetings, intake appointments, and all court appearances regarding the child. They will intervene on the child’s behalf by requesting available public services, providing the biological parents and foster family information regarding social service agencies, and conducting follow-ups to confirm those services are being used. Facilitating better communication between all parties is also an important part of their job. CASA volunteers keep track of compliance with court orders and DCPP resolutions and help overcome any obstacles that may arise when working with those plans.

Outlining the Boundaries of CASA Volunteers

What a CASA Does in Your Child's DCPP Case in NJAlthough the CASA Volunteer is deeply involved in the child’s life, there are several limitations placed on them. For example, they can participate in visitation but cannot supervise it. They cannot provide legal or therapeutic advice to the child or families. Although they can participate in IEP meetings and meet with the child’s healthcare providers, they are prohibited from signing consent forms. They cannot implement any of the needed services, nor can they share any information about the child with anyone who is not directly related to the case. Lastly, they cannot provide transportation to the child or other family members.

Our DCPP Lawyers Can Help if Your Case Involves a Court Appointed Special Advocate in New Jersey

An experienced DCPP defense and child welfare attorney at our firm can provide plenty of information about what a CASA does as it relates to your child. You will feel less anxious as our lawyers explain the role of the CASA volunteer and what he or she can do. We can facilitate the information-gathering process done by the CASA volunteer, making sure they have access to all of the necessary information to ensure the right decisions are made for your child and family. Primarily, we work to ensure that your rights are protected and that you and your child can be reunited as soon as possible. Our child abuse and neglect defense team provides assistance to clients in Morristown, Mount Olive, Warren, Parsippany, Woodbridge, Middletown, Toms River, Hunterdon, Jersey City, South Brunswick, Fort Lee, and across New Jersey in DCPP-related matters. Contact us today at (908)-356-6900 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.

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