Research Supports CASA


 
Volunteer Resources | Research Supports CASA

Generally, competent research about what works in child welfare is rare, hard to find, difficult to do well and expensive. California CASA is not alone in our advocating for more, quality research to be done in the field. Comprehensive CASA related research can be found here:

  • Article: Establishing CASA as an Evidence-Based Practice
    Jennifer Lawson & Jill Duerr Berrick, UC Berkeley Research Team (2012) CASA Effectiveness Study: UC Berkeley Considerations and
    Jennifer Lawson & Jill Duerr Berrick, Establishing CASA as an Evidence-Based Practice, Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work (2013) Available online as of 9/1/13 Purchase information via Taylor & Francis Online
  • CASA Assessment Research Summary 03-16-09
    Mensing, James F. (2008). Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Courts: An Assessment. Judicial Council of California Administrative Office of the Courts. Available online as of 9/1/2013
  • A Lot to Lose
    Smyth and Schorr (2009) A Lot to Lose: A Call to Rethink What Constitutes “Evidence” is Finding Social Interventions that Work. Working Paper Series: Malcolm Wiener Center for Social policy, Harvard, Kennedy School of Government. Available online as of 9/1/13
  • Research Summary Chart (2010)
    Summary of Research Studies in Child Dependency Cases (CASA and GAL Programs)

Here is some research that provides evidence of the positive impact that having a CASA can have on a child. The following findings are based on National or California research, using post-1997 data.

U.S. Department of Justice. (2006). National Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program. U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Audit Division

In cases were CASA volunteers are involved as compared to cases where no CASA volunteers are involved:

  • Children and their parent were ordered by the courts to participate in more services and received more services.
  • The case was more likely to be “permanently closed” – i.e., the children were less likely to reenter the Child Welfare System.
  • Children are more likely to be adopted.

Organization Research Services. (2005). Evaluation of Court Appointed Special Advocates /Guardians Ad Litem Volunteer Impact: Judicial Survey. Organizational Research Services

  • Judges assign cases to CASA volunteers when there is instability in the current placement, conflicting case information, concerns about implementation of services, or when cases relate to extreme neglect, physical or sexual abuse.
  • Judges value input from CASA volunteers in informing court decisions particularly in issues related to placement stability and permanence and safety of children while in placement.
  • Judges report that CASA volunteers’ activities have been very useful in making decisions about case outcomes.
  • Judges report that CASA volunteers are very effective in a range of activities to support court processes, including considering the best interests of children and monitoring cases.
  • Over 97% of judges believe that children and families are better served because of CASA volunteer involvement.
  • Over 80% of judges indicate that they assign the most difficult cases to CASA volunteers.

Caliber Associates. (2004). Evaluation of CASA Representation. Caliber Associates

  • In the majority of cases, all recommendations proposed by CASAs were accepted by the court; in over 90% of cases the majority of recommendations were accepted.
  • Children assigned to a CASA volunteer were more likely to have experienced abandonment, educational maltreatment or exploitation than children without a CASA volunteer.
  • Children assigned to a CASA volunteer were significantly more likely to be assessed as having a severe level of harm than those without a CASA volunteer.
  • Children with a CASA volunteer were significantly more likely to have a prior report of maltreatment, a prior investigation of maltreatment, a prior substantiated incident of maltreatment, and previously received child welfare services.
  • Parents of children with a CASA volunteer received significantly more services than parents of children without a CASA volunteer. Specifically, they were significantly more likely to receive health care services, legal services, alcohol and other drug services, and family support services.
  • Children with a CASA volunteer received significantly more services than parents of children without a CASA volunteer. Specifically, they were significantly more likely to receive mental health services and medical services.
  • Subsequent allegations of abuse were reported for only 34% of the open cases involving a CASA volunteer as compared to 52% of the open cases that did not involve a CASA volunteer.
  • 63% of children with a CASA volunteer were reunified with their parents as compared to 54% of children without a volunteer.

Mensing, James F. (2008). Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Courts: An Assessment. Judicial Council of California Administrative Office of the Courts

CASA serves the most vulnerable children

  • The proportion of teenagers served by CASAs is higher than the proportion of teens in the foster care system overall.
  • Almost one-third of the children served by CASAs live in group homes and other institutional settings.

CASAs are trusted by children, judicial officers and other system partners.

  • Dependent youth who were interviewed usually saw CASAs as trusted advocates.
  • Judicial offices describe CASAs as providing timely, accurate information through well-written reports and court appearances, helping the judicial offices make decisions and assess whether their orders are being followed.
  • CASAs have a unique role that neither duplicates nor replaces other services in the dependency system. Key aspects of that role are the individual attention CASAs give their children, the volunteer status of CASAs, and the independence of CASA programs.

Litzelfelner, Pat. (2003) CASA Consumer Satisfaction Survey. University of Kentucky

  • 84% of judges and attorneys surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs influence court opinions.
  • 86 % of judges and attorneys surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs are valuable to the court.
  • 87% of child welfare workers surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs are working for the best interest of the child.
  • 87% of judges ad attorneys surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs make appropriate recommendations.
  • 88% of child welfare workers surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs influence court opinions.
  • 90% of judges and attorneys surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs have an understanding of the needs of [the] child(ren).
  • 91% of judges and attorney surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs are working for the best interest of the child.
  • 92% of judges and attorney surveyed agree or strongly agree that Volunteer CASAs make a difference with the children they serve.