Advocates in Action: The Impact of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) on the Child Welfare System
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Child abuse and neglect are devastating and persistent societal occurrences. Through the historical efforts of child advocates, a complex child welfare system has developed to combat these problems. This evolution was prompted by the efforts of legislators, governmental entities, private charities and advocacy groups. This paper addresses the past changes and continuing challenges facing the child welfare system and how the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program can effectively work to aid the system in its overall goal of assisting victims of child abuse and neglect. The first section discusses the comprehensive history of children’s advocacy in the United States; establishing a context necessary to analyze the subsequent sections. Part two presents the rationale behind the CASA movement and summarizes research demonstrating the effectiveness and future promise of CASA volunteers in their efforts to advocate for the best interests of individual children. An argument is made for the continuance and expansion of CASA programs nationwide. The last section focuses on my personal experiences as a volunteer in order to show a qualitative perspective on the argument and issues introduced in previous sections.