CASA of Brown County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that recruits, screens, and trains everyday citizens from the community to be the voices of abused and neglected children in the courtroom, seeking to ensure them safe and permanent homes.
“Eyes & Ears of the Court”
Often referred to as the “eyes and ears of the court,” CASA volunteer Advocates are assigned by juvenile judges to advocate exclusively on behalf of a single child or sibling group. They conduct weekly, face-to-face visits with their child (or children), make independent, objective observations about the child’s safety and well-being, and submit a written summary report to the appointing judge each month to help that judge make decisions about the child’s permanent placement. Most importantly, CASA volunteer Advocates are often the only consistent, positive, unpaid adult in the lives of abused and neglected children during a time of chaos, confusion, and hurt.
A 12-year-old boy was one of 9 children all removed from their parents’ home and placed in different foster homes because of abuse. Because this 12-year-old boy was also the perpetrator of abuse toward his younger siblings, he was placed in a treatment foster home. The young boy was assigned a CASA volunteer Advocate who worked with him during this difficult transition into the treatment foster home despite his wishes to live with his mother. The boy eventually became comfortable with the treatment foster home and began to do better in school and in life. The treatment foster home then lost their license and the boy had to move again. Thanks to the close support and mentorship of the CASA Advocate, the boy was able to make a smooth transition into a regular foster home and continued to improve. It has been five years since he was removed from his home, and now after 5 years of consistent support and friendship from his CASA Advocate, he is doing quite well, including earning all As and Bs in school.
- In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children without enough information. He conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these children in court. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA movement.
- Today, there are more than 75,000 advocates serving in almost 1,000 state and local program offices nationwide. CASA programs across the country are known by several different names, including Guardian ad Litem, Child Advocates and Voices for Children. Since the inception of CASA advocacy, volunteer Advocates have helped more than 2 million children find safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive.
- CASA of Brown County, Inc. is one of seven programs that make up the Wisconsin CASA Association. Our program serves one court jurisdiction, the Brown County Circuit Court, which has eight branches. The circuit court follows a two-year rotation with two different judges rotating into juvenile court during each new rotation. Currently, the Honorable John P. Zakowski and the Honorable Thomas J. Walsh preside over all child abuse and neglect hearings.
- In Wisconsin, children who are the subject of abuse and/or neglect proceedings fall under Chapter 48 of the state statutes, the Children’s Code, and are deemed to be Children In need of Protection and Services (CHIPS).
- Our program serves abused and/or neglected children from pre-birth to 18 years of age who have been adjudicated to be CHIPS and who have been placed under dispositional orders by a Brown County Juvenile Court judge. The Brown County Circuit Court also has jurisdiction over cases involving children from the Oneida reservation.
- The children we serve are all under orders issued by the Brown County Circuit Court. However, because some of them live outside of the county, our volunteer Advocates sometimes serve children who may actually be living in other counties. We serve CHIPS children living with their parents, in relative placements, in foster homes, in group homes, and in residential treatment facilities.