Family Law CASA of King County Programs
Our organization utilizes a pool of over 180 trained volunteer advocates who have undergone over 21 hours of intensive training and are supervised, guided, and advised by our professional staff. Our advocates perform extensive investigations - interviewing the child and family members, reviewing school records, background checks and more. They then create written reports, providing an unbiased view to the court on what is in the best interest of the child or children.
When the custody of a child comes before the court, the court usually has very little reliable information. The parents and guardians are generally battling and the best interest of the child is frequently not represented. When this occurs, the court appoints Family Law CASA, and we provide the court with an objective view of the home environment. A quote from a recent survey of judges states "Thanks to the CASA program, I was able to 'hear from the child' and make the best decision possible".
Family Law CASA is dedicated to providing the best home environment possible for children. Each case Family Law CASA is assigned is thoroughly screened for domestic violence; in the instances where domestic violence is found, we provide referrals to domestic violence counseling for the abused party, treatment for the batterer, and counseling for the child(ren). Our volunteers are also trained to identify childhood development indicators and often refer children to educational services.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
One recent case involved a pre-teen boy living with his mother. The mother had an undiagnosed mental illness and hoarded animals and objects. The boy was being relentlessly teased at school because of the odor of his clothing. The boy was slowly dropping out of school - his attendance was poor and he was failing most subjects. The father petitioned for custody and our advocate recommended the father have custody. The boy moved in with his father, changed schools, and is now excelling.
Family Law CASA is funded entirely through community support. With King County's budget cuts looming, Family Court Services (a King County program) will likely close. This will leave Family Law CASA as the only organization accessible to low-income families involved in family court. With our current level of resources, we are at capacity. Our strategic plan calls for increasing our case load, but without the funding we are unable to proceed with the increase.