>UPDATE ON FAMILY COURT'S COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE PROGRAM
The Delaware Family Court CASA Program, staffed by ten CASA coordinators and one support person, partners with 223 volunteers who serve as Guardians ad Litem to children in Delaware who have been abused and/or neglected.
A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the Court and serves as a powerful, effective and caring advocate for an abused child. Every year CASA Volunteers work to ensure that children are placed in secure, nurturing homes with hope for a positive future. In most cases, this means returning to their parents once their safety is assured. In others, it means finding other means of permanency with relatives or non relatives rather than remaining in temporary care.
The ethnic profile of the volunteers generally reflects the population of the community. Most of the volunteers are female. On the average, each active CASA is assigned to 1-2 cases and represents 2-3 children at a time. In 2008, the program served 568 children. The current CASA volunteer pool of community advocates represents a 25% increase following Family Court’s implementation of its Diversity Initiative Advertisement Campaign which was designed to raise public awareness of CASA and to attract more volunteers.
Developed and led by Family Court Senior Program Coordinator Christina Harrison, this expanded public awareness program features initiatives such as billboards posted along I-95 and ads on DART buses, on several radio stations, and in the print media. Also, evening training sessions and additional volunteer training programs have been made available to improve the public’s accessibility to the initial and on–going training that is a requirement for CASA volunteers.
The Delaware Family Court CASA Program provides quality advocacy and strives to continue to grow in meeting the needs of the most needy and vulnerable children before court proceedings. To that end, Delaware’s Family Court Diversity Initiative Advertisement Campaign enables its CASA Program to provide carefully selected, thoroughly trained, and responsibly supervised Guardians ad Litem who represent the best interest of all abused and neglected children.