About CASA of Ventura County
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Ventura County recruits, screens, trains, and supports citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected foster children in courtrooms and communities.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Ventura County believes that every court-dependent abused or neglected child should be safe, have permanence and the opportunity to thrive, and have a strong, compassionate volunteer Advocate.
Every child or young adult (18-21) who enters the juvenile dependency system in Ventura County is appointed to the CASA of Ventura County program by the presiding judge with a priority ranking system. Once a CASA volunteer has been screened and trained, they are presented with cases of children currently on our wait list and assigned to one of those children based on highest need. Typically, each CASA volunteer is assigned to one child or may also be assigned to sibling groups, depending on the needs of the case.
The CASA volunteer then spends 10-15 hours per month working on the case, which not only includes building a one-on-one relationship with the child, but also communicating with the child’s social worker and others who can offer insight into the well-being of the child, which may include relatives, parents, caregiver, school officials, health providers and others. CASA volunteers record their case-related activities and submit a Monthly Contact Log to their case supervisor. Prior to each court hearing, the volunteer prepares a court report which includes observations, evaluations, and informed recommendations for the child. The judge and all case professionals read and consider the CASA report in addition to the social worker's in making their decision(s).
History of the CASA Program
CASA originated in Washington State in 1977. In 1983, a Ventura County public defender brought the concept of CASA to the attention of the Dependency Court. The Judge presiding over the Court was fully aware of the growing need for "a consistent adult to look out for the best interest of an individual child." Concern was mounting over the frequent changes of caregivers and service providers that were involved in foster children's lives, as well as the negative impact of these changes on them. The Court began to lay the groundwork for the Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Ventura County. When the program first began, responsibility for training and administration was left to the court, however the recruiting of volunteers required the cooperation of other entities.
In 1985 CASA of Ventura County was established, and the first Ventura County CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) were sworn in as officers of the court. Once underway, the Children's Home Society in Ventura became the "umbrella" organization for CASA. National CASA provided some financial support, and offices were located at the Court House at the Ventura Government Center. The first program manager was hired.
CASA continued to grow by training more Advocates and serving more of Ventura County's children. In 1991 there was a need for increased funding and administrative space. When the Children's Home Society could no longer accommodate CASA's growth, the organization CAAN (Child Abuse and Neglect) took CASA under the CAAN umbrella. It also provided increased administrative support in the form of a case manager.
In 1997 CAAN became a program of Interface Children Family Services in Camarillo, and so did CASA of Ventura County. During its years at Interface, CASA continued to grow, and it also established its first Advisory Board and Fundraising Council.
In 2011, with a full-time training coordinator, a part-time case manager and a cadre of dedicated volunteers, CASA emerged from under the umbrella of Interface and became a fully independent, 501(c)(3) organization. Two Board members served as volunteer co-Executive Directors in the first year. Funding was provided by local foundations, service clubs and organizations. A group called "Friends of CASA" was established to organize fundraising events and do outreach to local service groups.