WINTER 2019: Pro Bono Spotlight

Boston CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates) mission is to ensure a safe and permanent home for court-involved children in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties who have experienced abuse and neglect. We fulfill our mission by recruiting, training and supervising community volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (“CASAs”) who represent the best interests of children in and outside of the courtroom.

Boston CASA was created in 1982 and initially funded by the Suffolk County Juvenile Court. In January 2012, Boston CASA became an autonomous non-profit and hired its first Executive Director, Charles Lerner. Since 2012, Boston CASA has grown exponentially. We have increased our staff from 1 to 9 members, quadrupled our volunteers, increased the number of children we annually serve by 275%, and created the Older Youth Advocacy Program in order to better support youth aging out of foster care.

Boston CASA’s volunteers are appointed by juvenile court judges to be the eyes and ears of the court in complicated abuse and neglect cases. CASAs represent the “best interest” of the children they work with and are most often the only party involved in the case that does so. CASA volunteers work to be a unifying force on behalf of children – gathering information, communicating with all parties, and ensuring that children in foster care have a caring and consistent adult speaking up for them and making sure they are receiving the care they need and deserve.

CASA volunteers stay with a child until the case is closed and the child is in a safe and permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives in which foster parents, social workers, teachers, and mental health providers can change frequently. A child with a CASA volunteer is more likely to find a safe, permanent home; is half as likely to re-enter the foster care system; and is more likely to succeed in school.

Boston CASA is regularly seeking volunteers and have a special need for men, people of color, and multilingual individuals. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:

  • Gather information: Review documents and records, facilitate discussion with and among the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
  • Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.
  • Appear in court: Advocate for the child's best interests and, when necessary, provide testimony.
  • "Be the glue": Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children's lives. As one volunteer said: Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.
  • Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their family are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child's health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals.
  • Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members. Ensure that appropriate motions are filed on behalf of the child so the court knows about any changes in the child's situation.

Those interested may submit an inquiry to Boston CASA's website.