No. There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child’s best interests.
Yes. Juvenile and family court judges implement the CASA program in their courtrooms and appoint volunteers. CASA has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice.
CASA is a priority project of the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The office encourages the establishment of new CASA programs, assists established CASA programs, and provides partial funding for the National CASA Association.
Several studies have shown that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and less time within the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation. Judges have observed that CASA children also have better chances of finding permanent homes than children without CASAS.
Each of Maryland’s CASA Programs is a private, nonprofit organization. The State of Maryland provides partial funding for CASA programs, and some county governments provide partial funding. The National CASA Association provides start-up and expansion grants for new and existing programs. All of the programs raise funds from private foundations, fund raising events and contributions.
The volunteer continues until the case is permanently resolved. One of the primary benefits of the CASA Program is that, unlike other court principals who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings, and provides continuity for a child.
There are now more than MD CASA programs across the country including Washington DC and the U.S. Virgin islands. In Maryland, there are currently eight CASA programs, including Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, St. Mary’s, Talbot and Washington Counties.
Each case is different. A CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases may take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers contribute an average of 10-15 hours a month.
CASA volunteers are assigned to children who are victims of abuse and neglect and are the subject of dependency proceedings in Maryland’s juvenile and family courts.
Maryland CASA Association is a private nonprofit organization that supports the development, growth and continuation of CASA programs. Maryland CASA assists communities in starting CASA programs, provides technical assistance to local CASA programs, promotes accountability and consistency among programs and increases public awareness of CASA statewide.
The National CASA Association is a nonprofit organization that represents and serves the local CASA programs. It provides training, technical assistance, research, media and public awareness services to members.
Maryland’s CASA programs are known by a variety of names, including CASA, Voices for Children, and Child Advocacy Program. lf you cannot find a program in your area, contact:
Maryland CASA Association
251 Rowe Boulevard, Suite 336 – Annapolis, MD 21401-1521 – (410) 260-1980 – (888) 833-CASA (2272)
Outside Maryland, contact:
National CASA Association.
100 West Harrison St. – North Tower. Suite 500 – Seattle, WA 98119 – Phone: (206) 270-0072 or – (800) 628-3233 – (206) 270-0078