Chelan-Douglas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Programs
CASA volunteers, often referred to as Guardians ad Litem, investigate and prepare a carefully researched, background report for the court. During their investigation, the volunteer talks with the child, parents, social workers, doctors, teachers--anybody that is knowledgeable about the child's history. CASA volunteers also have access to all records pertaining to the child, including medical, mental health, school records, and other pertinent documents.
Following the investigative process, the volunteer makes a recommenation to the court regarding services needed for the child and family, as well as temporary and long-term placement.
The volunteer is instrumental in searching for options and making sure that the child's case keeps moving through the court and social service systems.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
One of our most recent successes has produced one of our current needs. Seeing the need for youth in foster care to have positive adults in their lives, the Chelan-Douglas CASA Program has created a program called ATEEM. ATEEM stands for Adolescents in Transition to Education and Employment through Mentoring. Our vision is to provide emotional, motivational and academic support for at-risk youth through a community of trained adult mentors who are committed to seeing them succeed. We will help our youth gain the life skills necessary to become contributing members of society.
In a 2010 Washington State Institute on Public Policy report, only 32-44% of foster care youth graduate from high school. National research shows that foster youth involved in mentoring programs improve in school attendance, the drop-out rate declines, self esteem and self-confidence improve, aggressive behavior declines, and they are less likely to be a victim or perpetrator of a crime or to be involved in teen pregnancy or substance abuse. There are currently no mentoring programs that target foster care youth in Chelan and Douglas Counties.
The ATEEM program is slated to begin recruitment and training of mentors in the summer of 2012. To support this new program the Chelan-Douglas CASA Program is asking for financial donations.