CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Southwest Missouri believes every child who's been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community. To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child's needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child's safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what's best for the child.
For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible.
Children with CASA volunteers are more likely to end up with their family, and according to National CASA, more likely to receive therapy, health care and education and do better in school, and less likely to be bounced from one place to another or get stuck in long-term foster care. CASA’s vision is to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in need in our community.
For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place.
CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children's lives, a willingness to learn, and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. Volunteers complete an interview, background checks, and a 30-hour intensive training program including in-person and online classes and courtroom observation. After being sworn-in by a judge, volunteers are appointed to a child or family of children and spend an average of 5-10 hours a month advocating for these children for two years. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child's family, teachers, doctors, caregivers, and anyone else involved in the child's life. Judges highly value CASA's recommendations which help them make informed decisions in the child's best interest.
CASA's Commitment to Inclusion:
As an organization, we value and celebrate the differences of our volunteers. We welcome and encourage community volunteers from/or allies with the LGBTQ+ community to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented in the foster care system. This makes a great opportunity to match volunteers with children and youth who are knowledgeable and compassionate in these areas to help our children and youth navigate their futures with ample support.
CASA of Southwest Missouri was created in 1988 by concerned community members and judges - following the creation of the national CASA model by a Seattle family court judge in 1977.