The CASA Project
The Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GALs) Project of Worcester County is a not-for-profit organization committed to speaking for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the Worcester County Courts. The CASA Project, a member of the National CASA Association, recruits, screens, and trains community volunteers to become Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), also known as Guardians ad Litem (GAL). Appointed by judges to help on the most heart-breaking cases in the foster care system, CASAs help abused and neglected children navigate the Worcester County Juvenile Courts, one child or sibling group at a time. CASAs report the best interests of the children to the judge, who uses the reports in her/his evaluation and decision on each case.
On an average day in Worcester County, MA, 1,700 abused, neglected, or exploited children live in foster care because they cannot live safely at home. All of the children are victims and need a voice to ensure they grow up in a safe and permanent home. Nearly 800 children are placed into our juvenile court system each year to receive the help they need. Most of these children are younger than 12 years of age – with nearly half under 6 years old – and all are hurt, frightened, and confused. The CASA Volunteers on each case provide a small sense of stability and trust for these children.
Since its founding in 1981, The CASA Project, has provided thousands of children with the voices they need in court. The CASA Project’s Court advocacy program recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers (CASA/GALs) who are appointed by a judge to serve one child or sibling group at a time. As a result, these children have grown up with a safe home, a sense of hope, and a bright future.
In 2019, CASA advocates served nearly 900 children. These dedicated volunteers gave 15-20 hours of their time each month to advocate for children. CASA Volunteers serve in all five sessions of the Worcester Juvenile Court: Leominster, Fitchburg, Worcester, Milford, and Dudley. The organization strives to match volunteers with cases suited to their interests, background, and location.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The CASA Project has shifted its focus to ensuring equitable education opportunities for the children we serve. The court system is stretched thinner and more backed up than ever before, leaving the CASA children without much assurance for what is to come. CASAs/GALs continue to work tirelessly to ensure the best care and support is provided to children in foster care.
What The CASA Project Does
CASA Volunteers perform three essential functions to assist the Juvenile Court judges in making the best determination for each child or sibling group:
- CASA Volunteers investigate and fact-find, helping the judge learn the nuances of each child’s prospective caregiver situations.
- CASA Volunteers advocate for any medical, mental health, and educational services a child may need while the Care and Protection petition is open.
- CASA Volunteers monitor case progress to promote the safety of the child and to obtain a swift and effective resolution of each case: a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible.
Interested in Joining?
We desperately need your help to reach our goal of serving every child in Worcester County involved in a Care and Protection petition by the year 2021. EVERY SINGLE DONATION COUNTS and helps us to make a very real difference in a child’s life.
Monetary donations are greatly appreciated, but so are donations of your time! Becoming a CASA Volunteer is not only rewarding, but it also creates significant and positive change for children in the foster care system.
Please help care for our Worcester County children for whom few things in life have gone right. Volunteer your time and donate your resources. You will give a child a voice, a home, a hope, and a future.
The CASA Project gratefully acknowledges support given by The United Way and our Corporate and foundation Supporters as well as hundreds of generous individuals. Thank you!