Alaska CASA is a network of programs around the state that recruit, screen, train, and support adults in the community to serve as court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers. Alaska CASA speaks up for children who’ve been abused or neglected by empowering our community to volunteer as advocates for them in the child welfare system.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs recruit, train and supervise community volunteers to serve as advocates for foster youth. The Alaska CASA program began in 1987 under the auspices of the state Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) as a program within the child advocacy unit. In 1988, the Alaska legislature passed a bill that recognized CASA volunteers and gave OPA statutory authority to develop CASA programs. Currently, Alaska CASA operates local programs in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and the MatSu Valley. Alaska CASA and each local CASA program is a member of the National CASA Association.
A court appointed special advocate (CASA) is a community volunteer trained and supervised by professional program staff to speak up for abused and neglected children in child welfare court cases. Every child in state custody in Alaska has a professional, paid guardian ad litem GAL advocate, but GALs have high caseloads, particularly in the more populated communities such as those in which we operate CASA programs. The CASA volunteer typicallly only works with one or two sibling groups at a time and partners with the assigned GAL to provide the best possible advocacy for each child.
The CASA volunteer role complements but does not duplicate the duties of other responsible persons involved in abuse or neglect cases, such as case workers and attorneys. With support and guidance provided by staff, the CASA volunteer gathers and assesses information and develops recommendations, which are considered by the court to aid in its decisions about the best course of action for the child.