Court Appointed Special Advocates for Nevada’s Children
To strengthen and expand a statewide network of CASA programs that empower volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in Nevada.
Every judicial district in Nevada has a sustainable program providing high-quality advocacy for all children in Nevada’s child welfare system.
Nevada CASA Association champions the needs of abused and neglected children by supporting and expanding the capacity of local CASA programs across the state.
Our Core Pillars of Work
- Expand public awareness of Nevada’s CASA programs, the needs of abused and neglected children, and the importance of CASA volunteers.
- Provide technical assistance for volunteer training, statewide collaboration, and other resources to strengthen local program capacity.
- Advocate for effective public policy for children in Nevada’s child welfare system.
The History of CASA
In 1977, Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup was concerned that he did not always have sufficient information for making decisions impacting the lives of abused and neglected children involved in cases in his court.
He understood that social workers often had overwhelming caseloads and did not have the time to acquire detailed information about these children. Moreover, others involved with the cases of these children, such as attorneys and medical practitioners, generally only focused on their areas of expertise.
Judge Soukup worried he was making long-term decisions without the benefit of complete information. He wanted something more, so he launched the idea of training volunteers from the community who would serve as independent and neutral child advocates. He believed that if the sole focus of these volunteers was to protect the best interests of the child, these court appointed special advocates could be the “eyes and ears of the court” and the voice of the child.
Today, this is the model used by courts throughout the United States. The Nevada CASA Association is one of 48 state CASA offices.
Why We Need to Support Nevada's Most Vulnerable Children
Sources: DCFS 2019 Annual Services Progress Report, National CASA Association, Adoption Network, Fostering Court Improvement Website
- The child welfare system is in a state of crisis, due in part to the devastating opioid epidemic.
- 4,608 documented abused and neglected children in Nevada.
- More than 4,000 children are in Nevada’s foster care system on any given day.
- Children spend an average of 13.8 months in care.
- 7 local CASA programs currently serve children in 8 of the 17 Nevada counties.
- 708 CASA volunteers advocates speak up for 1,274 of Nevada’s abused and neglected children.
- 3,500 of Nevada’s abused and neglected children still need a CASA advocate.
- NRS 432B.500 mandates a GAL/CASA for each abused and neglected child but there is no state funding to support this mandate – Nevada is one of only six states in the nation that receives no state funding to support its mandate to serve such children.
Children with Court Appointed Special Advocates have better odds of succeeding. A child with a CASA volunteer:
- Will spend 4 to 6 months less time in foster care
- Will receive more needed services such as counseling and tutoring
- Is more likely to stay in school and go on to graduate
- Is half as likely to re-enter the foster care system
- Is more likely to find a safe, loving, and permanent home
- What is a CASA? Court Appointed Special Advocate.
- CASA Volunteers are appointed by judges to speak in court for the safety and well-being of an abused or neglected child.
- Children assigned to a CASA volunteer are victims of abuse or neglect.
- CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. More than half of all CASA volunteers are employed full-time.
- A CASA for kids is well trained and supported by competent and professional staff.
- Judges, attorneys, child protective workers, and parents overwhelmingly report that CASA volunteers make a difference with the children they serve.
- Children with a CASA volunteer are half as likely to spend time in long-term foster care, defined as more than three years in care.
- Cases involving a CASA volunteer are more likely to be permanently closed. Fewer than 10% of children with a CASA volunteer re-enter the foster care system.
- The CASA program saves taxpayer dollars by reducing children’s length of stay and their chances of returning to Foster Care.
Nevada CASA Association works to assure sound public policies on issues affecting the Nevada child welfare system, the well-being of children and youth in state custody, and other policy areas related to our mission.
Along with the local CASA programs and their volunteers, Nevada CASA engages in a variety of efforts to study, develop and change public policies. Additionally, Nevada CASA staff and Board Members conduct research, collaborate with other advocacy and stakeholder groups, participate in special task forces, and engage in other processes to develop and impact policy.
A sampling of Nevada CASA’s public policy endeavors include:
- Member, Nevada Children’s Commission
- Member, Court Improvement Program (CIP)
- Member, Community Improvement Council (CIC) Legislative Committee
- Attending and contributing to legislative task forces and committees