107 West 13th
Hays, Kansas 67601
Be a 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-four (24) 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 2011, the 24 CASA programs in Kansas supported and supervised 969 volunteers who advocated for 2,225 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 24 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.
About Kansas CASA
The Kansas CASA Association (KCA) was incorporated in 1991 to support and promote the development, growth and continuation of individual Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs. Kansas CASA offers important leadership and support to local programs in a variety of ways: through training and technical assistance, advocacy and grants and resource development.
Kansas CASA has only one full-time staff person providing an array of services to local programs. Growth of the Association has benefited local programs through such services as:
Meet the Kansas CASA Board and Staff
The Kansas CASA Association is governed by fifteen member Board of Directors, of which includes three local program directors. All efforts are made to ensure that the make-up of the Board of Directors reflects the skills and resources needed to provide the services needed to encourage the growth and continuation of the CASA programs in Kansas.
Janette Meis, State Director, has been with Kansas CASA for over 10 years. Prior to this position, she served as the Executive Director of CASA of the High Plains, Inc. in Hays, KS. Her top priority is to provide local programs with the resources they need to provide volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children in Kansas.
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.
Ways You Can Make a Difference
In the News