107 West 13th
Hays, Kansas 67601
Janette Meis
State Director

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Kansas CASA®
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Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them

About CASA

What is CASA®

The CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) concept is based on the belief that every child has the right to a safe, permanent home.  Unlike attorneys and social workers, the CASA volunteer speaks exclusively for the child’s best interests.  By handling only one or two cases at a time (compared to a social agency caseworker’s average load of 60 – 90), the CASA volunteer has the time to explore thoroughly the history of each assigned case.  The volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, neighbors, school officials, doctors and others involved in the child’s life that may have facts about the case.  The volunteer then also reviews all records and documents pertaining to the child.  He or she then submits a formal report to the court-recommending placement: should the child stay with his or her parents, be placed in foster care, or be freed for permanent adoption?  If the court leaves the child in temporary care, the CASA volunteer provides continuity by staying on the case until it is permanently resolved.

Kansas is divided into thirty-one judicial districts of which twenty-three (23) have established CASA programs.  Most judicial districts are inclusive of several counties, and some programs serve more than one county in their respective districts. In 2012, the 23 CASA programs in Kansas supported and supervised 879 volunteers who advocated for 2,156 children.  Those volunteers contributed over 60,000 hours of their time to children in need.  Some of the children served by CASA volunteers are victims of abuse and violence; others have been neglected or abandoned by their parents.  Many times, these children suffer from the lack of proper nutrition, emotional trauma, and lack of medical care and/or physical injuries.  Some are victims of violence, psychological torment, or sexual abuse.  These frightened and confused children often become victims of an overburdened child welfare system, which is a complex legal network of lawyers, social workers, and judges who frequently are too overburdened to give thorough, detailed attention to each child who comes before them.  Every year in Kansas, over 4,000 children are placed in Child Protective Services, removed from their homes at no fault of their own

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for these abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system.  They stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence—the one adult who cares only for them.

Kansas CASA and its 23 local programs are working hard to make sure that every child who needs an advocate to speak for his or her best interests before the courts, has a caring, trained adult to help them through this difficult period of his or her life.

In a survey conducted by Kansas CASA, judges reported an increase in the quality (96%) and quantity (89%) of information available to the court during Child in Need of Care Cases.  Additionally, 92% of the judges surveyed indicated that services provided to the family are monitored more frequently when a CASA is involved in a case.  CASA volunteers play a vital role in the outcome of these cases.

CASA History

In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children without enough information. He conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these children in court. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA movement.

1977 CASA created by Judge David Soukup in Seattle
1981 Wichita starts the first Kansas CASA program
1985 National CASA and the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention established their first cooperative agreement.
1986 Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Alfred Schroeder signed Rule 110, creating Kansas CASA program standards and guidelines.
1990 CASA endorsed by American Bar Association
First statewide training held for Kansas CASA Directors, funded by United Health Ministry Funds.
1991 Kansas CASA Association is established by a network of CASA directors
1992 State legislature enacted funding for CASA programs by earmarking $3 of birth certificate funds for CASA.
1996 Kansas CASA awarded a two-year grant from the National CASA Association
1997 Kansas CASA selected as the recipient of Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction, awarded by the Kansas Bar Association
1999 Kansas CASA hires first full-time staff person
2002 First statewide board training held for all Kansas CASA programs
2006 Kansas CASA Board of Directors restructured to include individuals from across the state, not just CASA program directors.
2007 Chosen as the statewide charity by the Fraternal Order of Eagles
2011 Kansas CASA celebrated 20 years.

The Kansas Supreme Court Standards for CASA programs was revised and approved by the Supreme Court.

2012  Ottawa and Saline Counties CASA in Salina was established under the umbrella of CAPS.

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