Bitterroot CASA advocates for the best interests of children who are under the protection of the district court, seeking to assure safe, permanent families for them as quickly as possible. Bitterroot CASA is committed to providing all abused, neglected, and exploited children a voice in the court process.
What CASA Does
When the District Court assumes jurisdiction over a child, a volunteer guardian ad litem is appointed to serve the child’s best interests in the court proceedings. The CASA volunteer’s role is to ensure that the child receives proper care while in the system, and see that the child is placed in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. A guardian ad litem conducts investigations regarding all the facts, monitors the child’s situation, and makes recommendations to the court. As a CASA volunteer you get to know the child, and meet the parents, foster parents therapists, teachers, concerned friends and case workers. Once you have the full picture, you make recommendations as to what is in the child’s best interests.
The goal of Bitterroot CASA is to prevent abused, neglected and abandoned children from becoming lost in the Court system. We work carefully to match a CASA Volunteer with a child to ensure that child’s best interest is served.
The volunteer has four essential roles:
- Represent the child in court.
- Assist the Court by investigating each case and reporting their findings and recommendations.
- Monitor the progress of the case as it moves through the system to reduce judicial delays and continuances.
- Facilitate the services needed to maintain the active and positive growth of the child.
CASA volunteers are unique in providing information not usually available to the Court. Because of the number of dependency cases filed in Ravalli County and dwindling resources to adequately investigate cases, judges are often compelled to make decisions based on less than complete or objective data. A CASA’s objective, unbiased recommendation in the best interest of the child is an invaluable aid to the judge. Once, the case work begins. Following is a summary of the general responsibilities:
- The CASA selected reviews the case information and consults with the involved professionals and individuals involved in that child’s life.
- The CASA prepares a court report with their recommendations for the child, prior to court hearings.
- The Juvenile Court Judge reads and considers the CASA report along with the social worker’s report prior to making a decision.
- The CASA monitors the progress of the case.
In addition to our services to abused, neglected, and abandoned children, our program also advocates for delinquent youth. Bitterroot CASA provides community education and awareness concerning issues of child abuse, neglect and child welfare policy.