About Us


FAQ's

A:

Child Advocates San Antonio recruits, trains and supervises volunteers to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children in foster care. CASA is part of a nationwide organization of Court Appointed Special Advocates with more than 900 local chapters in 50 states, and 77,000 volunteers, helping 234,000 children find a safe and permanent home last year. Locally, CASA was established by the San Antonio chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women in 1984 and has now been serving the children of Bexar County for almost 30 years.

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A Child Advocate is appointed by a judge to be an independent voice in court for an abused and/or neglected child.

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The Advocate provides the judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child's future. The Advocate must determine if it is in the best interest of the child to live with the parent(s) or legal guardian, remain in foster care, or be freed for permanent adoption. The Advocate makes a recommendation about placement to the court, and follows through until the case is permanently resolved. Advocates work closely with, but independent of, Child Protective Services (CPS) and attorneys.

The role of the Advocate is:

  • To be a fact-finder for the judge.
  • To speak for the child in court, representing the child's best interest.
  • To continue to act as a 'watchdog' for the child during the life of the case, ensuring that the child's needs are met and the case is resolved swiftly and appropriately.

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Advocates talk with the child, parents, family members, caseworkers, school officials, health providers, therapists, and others who are knowledgeable about the child's history. Advocates review school, medical and caseworker reports and other documents regarding the child during the time the child is in foster care.

A:

The Advocate does not provide legal representation in the courtroom; that is the role of the attorney. A child Advocate, however, speaks specifically to what is in the best interest of the child. Advocates provide crucial background information that assists judges in making their determinations regarding the needs and placement for the child(ren).

A:

CPS caseworkers handle 40 to 60 cases on average and a child Advocate typically has only one or two cases at a time. CPS caseworkers do not have the time to conduct as in-depth an investigation as does the Advocate. Because Advocates are volunteers, frequently they are perceived as less adversarial by the families and can elicit more cooperation and information than the State's caseworkers. This information, along with knowledge of community resourses, allows Advocates to make a recommendation to the court independent of State agency restrictions.

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Child Advocates come from all walks of life, representing a variety of ethnic, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Approximately two-thirds of our Advocates are employed full-time, some are college students and some are retired. What they have in common is the belief that children deserve a safe and permanent home. Advocates must be at least 21 years of age, speak fluent English, and pass a background check. They also must have a high school diploma, valid driver's license and good driving record, proof of automobile insurance, reliable transportation and the ability to be both compassionate and objective.

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Child Advocates explain to the child the events that are happening, why they are in foster care, and the roles the judge, attorneys and caseworkers play. Advocates offer the children what no one else can: consistency and continuity in the midst of all the chaos the children are experiencing. In the course of a typical case, the child will experience several foster placements, new schools, caseworker turnover... but only ONE Advocate. The trust that is built allows the Advocate to encourage the children to express their feelings and to feel safe. All the while the Advocates remain objective observers.

A:

Each case is different; but, most cases require going to court 2 or 3 times during each six-month period to present a report with recommendations to the judge. More time is spent on a case when it is first assigned, as this is the more intensive fact-finding stage. As the case moves toward resolution, cases require less time. Advocates are required to see the child(ren) on their case at least once a month. In total, most cases require 12 to 15 hours per month.

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Children who have been removed from their homes and placed into protective care of the State because of confirmed abuse and/or neglect are assigned to an Advocate. Bexar County is unique in that there is a specific court established to hear the abuse and neglect docket exclusively. Our goal is to provide an Advocate to every child who needs one.

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No. There are other local child advocacy organizations, but Child Advocates San Antonio is the only program legally sanctioned by the courts to provide community volunteers to represent a child's needs and best interests.

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We rely on grants and donations from private foundations, corporations, and individuals. We also receive funding from United Way and some civic organizations, as well as pass through government dollars from both our State and National CASA organizations. Please refer to our Financials page for more information.

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Child Advocates San Antonio conducts numerous training classes each year. The 33-hour initial training course provides Advocates with an overview of courtroom procedure from judges, lawyers and caseworkers. Advocates also are educated about specific topics ranging from symptoms and effects of abuse and neglect to early childhood development and cultural diversity. All volunteers are required to complete the 33 hours of initial training before taking their first case. They are also required to complete 12 hours of continuing education annually.