You know what a CASA volunteer does: she/he advocates in court for the best interests of the children on their case. But have you ever wondered, “How effective is CASA advocacy?” A number of academic studies have compared outcomes for children with a CASA to those without a CASA to answer that exact question.
The research found that children with a CASA volunteer:
- Have significantly less placements than a child without a CASA volunteer. 1, 2, 3
- Reported significantly higher levels of hope. A child’s hope has been linked to numerous positive outcomes such as academic success, overall wellbeing, increases in self-control, positive social relationships, and optimism. 4
- Are more likely to have better outcomes: children tended to perform better academically and behaviorally in school as measured by whether they passed all of their courses, whether or not they were expelled, and their conduct performance. 5
- Are half as likely to reenter the child welfare system. 1, 2, 6, 7, 8
- Are more likely to achieve permanency. 1, 2
- Are as likely to be reunified with their birth parent as a child without a CASA volunteer. 8
- Are more likely to be adopted. 7, 8
- Are ordered to receive more services. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10
These are just a few of the studies’ overarching findings focusing on outcomes for children who benefit from the advocacy of a CASA volunteer. CASA volunteers assure that the court and child welfare systems remain focused on the children’s wellbeing, assuring that the specific needs of individual children are addressed. As you can see, having a CASA volunteer on their case and by their side can improve almost every facet of their life: personal wellbeing, relationships, school, and permanency.
(These studies were completed across the U.S. and are not specific to CASA of NWA.)
Answered by Development Coordinator Nikki McDaniel
1 Calkins, C.; Millar, M. The Effectiveness of Court Appointed Special Advocates to Assist in Permanency Planning. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. 1999.
2 Gershun, Martha, and Claire Terrebonne. Child welfare system interventions on behalf of children and families: Highlighting the role of court appointed special advocates. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care. Volume 9. 2018.
3 Leung, P. Is the Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program Effective? A Longitudinal Analysis of Time Involvement and Case Outcomes. Child Welfare League of America. 1996
4 Stanley, Jessica, and Chan M. Hellman. Nurturing Hope Among Children Experiencing Abuse & Neglect: Examining the Effects of CASA Volunteers. 2019.
5 Waxman, H.; Houston, R.; Profilet, S.; Sanchez, B. The Long-Term Effects of the Houston Child Advocates, Inc., Program on Children and Family Outcomes. Child Welfare. 2009
6 Office of the Inspector General Report, US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Audit Report Results for CASA Advocacy. Washington, DC. January, 2007
7 Poertner, J., & Press, A. Who best represents the interests of the child in court? Child Welfare: Journal of Policy, Practice, and Program. 1990.
8 Abramson, Shareen. Use of court-appointed advocates to assist in permanency planning for minority children. Child Welfare: Journal of Policy, Practice, and Program. 1991.
9 Caliber Associates, National CASA Association Evaluation Project, Caliber Associates; Fairfax, Virginia. 2004.
10 Litzelfelner, P. The Effectiveness of CASAs in Achieving Positive Outcomes for Children. Child Welfare League of America. 2000.
11 Peters, C.; Claussen Bell, K.; Zinn, A.; George, R.; Courtney, M. Continuing in Foster Care Beyond Age 18: How Courts Can Help. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. 2008.