Oakland County CASA program receives national certification

The Oakland County Janice Morganroth Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program has been awarded certification by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association. The certification recognizes that CASA has met the high national standards for program operations.

CARE House, the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County, provides training for volunteer advocates assigned to neglect and abuse cases by the Circuit Court Family Division to support the court's effort in addressing the best interest of children, ensuring their needs are met while in foster care, and that they have a safe and permanent home to return to as quickly as possible.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Pezzetti, presiding judge of the Family Division, commented, "CASA has provided invaluable assistance to the court when children need extra support or when families need assistance in completing requirements for reunification or adoption. CASA volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the court. They are to be commended for their commitment to doing what is best for children."

To maintain program membership, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association requires its members to complete a self-assessment every four years based on national standards that were developed on best practices. The assessments are conducted to assure quality advocacy programs throughout its more than 1,000 affiliates in the United States.

Charles Ludwig, director of Prevention and Advocacy at CARE House, noted that, "Children who come under court jurisdiction for neglect and abuse often are traumatized by the neglect and abuse and by the separation from their families. It takes consistency and persistence to support them to cope with the trauma. Our goal with CASA advocates is to be the source of that consistency and persistence."

In 2009, CASA advocates gave more than 3,500 hours as a voice for children's needs. CASA volunteers assigned to a case will work collaboratively with other professionals to make sure the rights of the children are protected and until permanent placement in a stable environment has been achieved. An advocate presents reports to the court, identifies additional services for the child and makes recommendations to the court, participates in meetings, school conferences, and may even meet with the child's therapist.

There are many more children under the court's jurisdiction who would benefit from having the consistency of an advocate in their lives. An advocate must be at least 21 years of age, possess a genuine interest in the well-being of children, have good communication and interpersonal skills, and demonstrate the ability to look at a case objectively. There is presently a need for male advocates and advocates of color. For additional information about the CASA program in Oakland County, contact CARE House at (248) 332-7173 or www.carehouse.org.

Published: Fri, Jun 18, 2010

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