Category Archives: News | June 2021

Asked & Answered: What is a CASA volunteer’s role in reunification?

As reunification is always the initial focus of the case, CASA volunteers play a vital role in not only advocating for the child, but also building a relationship with the parents, and helping them build a positive support system within their community.

The exact role a CASA plays in reunification varies case by case but often includes the following:

Service Provision: Helping the family heal and reunify requires aide from various community partners.  CASA volunteers work with biological families to identify appropriate resources that support reunification including mental health services, substance abuse treatment, parenting classes, and housing.

Parent Visitation: Throughout the case, CASA volunteers will also observe visitations/interactions between the parents and child and help ensure that visits are occurring regularly to help repair and continue to build the bond between parent and child. 

Residential Review: Advocates also make home visits to assess the environment and identify any safety/health concerns that may need to be addressed. The main goal is for the parents to be able to provide a safe and nurturing home for their child/children.

Partner Relationships: CASA volunteers play an integral role in their cases by collaborating with DHS, foster parents, biological parents, attorneys, and the child/children to assess the progress of the case and ensure that the child’s best interest is always being kept in mind. By maintaining these positive relationships and communicating with all parties involved, it greatly increases the opportunities for families to be reunified. 

During the course of a case, it may become clear that reunification is not in the best interest of a child we serve. But, seeing a child reunify with their family is one of the brightest moments of being a CASA volunteer and highlights the important role that an advocate plays in the foster care system.


Answered by Advocate Supervisor Amanda Quillen

A volunteer’s perspective on reunification

Reunification can be hard to understand, and many CASA volunteers are unsure about working with parents when they take their first case. We asked veteran volunteer Deanna Cicatiello for her perspective on reunification and working with parents in this Q&A.

Q: Was it hard to imagine working with parents when you first became a CASA volunteer?

A: “I was unsure about working with parents. After all, their actions resulted in their kids being taken from their custody. But once I started working cases, I‘d learn more about them and become invested in their success.”

Q: What surprised you about working with parents?

A: “It didn’t take long for me to realize that in some situations, they’re not bad people; they’ve simply made bad choices. And in a lot of cases, the parents have suffered their own trauma that they continue to struggle with. That adds another layer of difficulty to things.”

Q: How has your view of parents changed since working with them?

A: “My experiences have definitely made me more compassionate and understanding. I realize how important it is to go in with an open mind. They may have gotten in a bad relationship or they just need some help. I’ve definitely become less judgmental.”

Q: What are some of the issues they have to overcome?

A: “One of the biggest is probably sobriety when drugs and alcohol are involved. Getting over an addiction takes enormous effort. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially if they don’t have support.”

Q: How do you help parents when the case’s goal is reunification?

A: “Working toward reunification is a long process, and they might feel like they’re not getting anywhere. One of the most important things I can do is encourage them and let them know that someone’s in their corner. When parents get the case plan with the list of what they have to do if reunification is going to be an option, it’s overwhelming and intimidating. I think even just one person calling and checking on them and offering consistent encouragement can make the difference between failure and success.”

Q: Has seeing parents’ successes inspired you?

A: “Absolutely. In my first reunification, it was a mother wanting to reunify. I could see how hard she was working. It would’ve been so much easier for her to just keep doing what she was doing before, but she was committed to becoming a better person and a better mom for her kids.”