OUR SEPTEMBER ISSUE highlights top legal professionals in our area who work to ethically and professionally represent the best interests of their clients. From family matters to corporate concerns, law firm personnel provide assistance and guidance through everything from momentous milestones to difficult life events.
In keeping with that theme, we’d like to take the opportunity to shine a light on an organization that provides a voice in court for children who have experienced abuse or neglect—Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA trains and supervises local volunteers from all walks of life to advocate for children in need of care, benefiting the child and the community by working to help end the cycle of child abuse.
CASA volunteers help the court in its determination of the best interest of children by providing a first-hand, independent perspective in the course of finding them safe and permanent homes. Children helped by CASA volunteers include those who are in the legal custody of the state (foster care). Volunteers provide judges with carefully researched background details about the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child involved. The CASA volunteer makes recommendations in the best interest of the child—whether it is to return to their parents, to be placed with other family members, to be freed for adoption or sometimes, to remain in foster care a while longer. The CASA volunteer attends court approximately once every six months to make recommendations and follows through on the case until it is permanently resolved.
CASA for St. Tammany and Washington Parishes is administered through the Youth Service Bureau in Covington. CASA Director Sharon McLane says, “There is a continuing need for more volunteers so that we can serve an even greater number of very deserving children. We appreciate our successful, collaborative relationship with the Department of Children and Family Services as well as the support of the 22nd Judicial Court judges. The judges we serve say the CASA’s letter and testimony are critical elements in their decision process as they are the ultimate advocate for the child.” To request information about the CASA program, visit ysbworks.com or call 985-649-4092.