The Rhode Island CASA Program was established in 1978, becoming the second program in a network that has grown to almost 950 affiliates nationwide. Rhode Island CASA has been a statewide program since 1985, providing staff attorneys/guardians ad litems (GALs) and volunteer advocates to children referred to the Family Court as the result of the DCYF filing of an abuse, neglect, or dependency petition. The program operates under the auspices of the Rhode Island Family Court.
CASA attorneys/GALs supervise volunteer advocates who work with them on assigned cases. RI CASA also has several professional social workers on staff who handle their own caseloads, and serve as instructors during 30-hour CASA volunteer trainings. The caseworkers are a valuable resource for volunteers as they learn about their new role within the child welfare system and Family Court.
30-hour training classes are offered five times a year: January, March, June, September, and October. January and June classes are offered during select days at the Kent County Courthouse in Warwick. March, September, and October classes take place during a series of selected evenings, at the Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence. Meals are provided during the trainings.
Hundreds of children in CASA cases need volunteer advocates.
CASA volunteers are “the eyes and ears of the court”, visiting monthly with children to ensure their safety and well-being, and reporting back to the Court. They also serve as “The Voice of the Child”. Children with CASA volunteers tend to achieve permanency more quickly, have more needed services, and do better in school.