Volunteering to Make a Difference in Children’s Lives
At St. Francis School of Law, giving back to the community is a core value. Our esteemed professors exemplify this value by providing pro bono legal services, positively impacting other people’s lives through lawyering, and dedicating their time to volunteer work. One such extraordinary example of service commitment is demonstrated by Prof. Karen Travis, who has been actively involved in the CASA legal volunteering program for foster children in the Los Angeles area for the past seven years.
What is CASA?
The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program appoints dedicated individuals to represent the best interests of foster children. CASAs serve as neutral advocates and report to the court, ensuring that the child’s unique needs are met. These appointed individuals play a crucial role in the lives of foster children who face the challenges of abuse or neglect. CASAs conduct thorough investigations into the special circumstances of their assigned foster children and advocate for their rights, ensuring they receive appropriate residential placement, educational support, medical care, and therapeutic services.
Prof. Travis’ Journey
Prof. Travis expresses deep gratitude for her involvement with CASA and the opportunity to serve children through this program. She considers it one of the most rewarding experiences in her legal career. Utilizing her legal expertise and experience, Prof. Travis strives to enhance the lives of children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in the dependency court system due to their parents’ inability to provide a safe and nurturing environment.
Advocacy for Foster Children
In the role of a CASA, ensuring the safety and well-being of each foster child is of utmost importance. CASAs address both the fundamental necessities and the emotional consequences arising from abuse and neglect. When preparing recommendations for the court, CASA volunteers carefully consider all possible legal options available to the child, such as family reunification, foster placement, adoption, and legal guardianship.
Prof. Travis shares a recent assignment where she represented a youth who had been repeatedly placed in various foster homes due to his parents’ struggle with drug abuse. Furthermore, the child faced severe learning disabilities, making the frequent changes of schools significantly challenging. Prof. Travis, alongside social services, advocated for the child’s special educational and mental health needs. As a result, the child was able to return permanently to his mother’s care, no longer requiring court protection.
CASA: An Excellent Opportunity for Law Students
The CASA for Children program offers a valuable platform for law students to develop and practice advocacy skills while gaining a comprehensive understanding of the dependency court system. At St. Francis School of Law, we provide a specialized course in Children & The Law. This course equips students with knowledge of the legal rights of dependent children and fosters an understanding of the court systems dedicated to serving the best interests of foster children. We encourage our law students, as well as lawyers passionate about helping children, to volunteer and contribute to their community through participation in a CASA program.
To learn more about CASA and begin your journey as a volunteer, visit the official Garrity Traina website at Garrity Traina.
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