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The vision of the State Association is that all children have a right to a safe and permanent home, and all children deserve the support and involvement of their community when that safety is violated. Our mission is to promote and support trained community volunteer advocacy programs that assist Family Courts in making crucial decisions affecting children by supporting local CASA programs through training, technical assistance, and information; facilitating the flow of information to, from and among local programs; promoting and assisting the development of new CASA programs throughout the state; gathering and processing data from local programs; formulating and delivering training programs; seeking aggregate funding for CASA programs statewide; and continuing to improve the quality of CASA services available across New York State. CASANYS also provides a voice for children among the public and its representatives in the state legislature, and works to raise public awareness of the needs of abused and neglected children and the hope that CASA provides.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) provide volunteer advocacy for abused, neglected and at-risk children in Family Court proceedings to help assure safety and permanence for those children. The trained CASA volunteers take only one or two cases at a time, offering intensive, individualized services to help these children to achieve a safe and permanent home. CASAs provide judges with thorough, up-to-date information on which to base their decisions, and help to ensure that court orders are being followed. CASA volunteers are recruited from their communities, and represent a large age-range and variety of educational, professional and cultural backgrounds. In 2004 in New York State, 792 CASA volunteers served nearly 4,000 children. Based on data from current CASA caseloads, these children are overwhelmingly impacted by poverty, with more 85% of them coming from homes with incomes at or below federal poverty guidelines. 72% of the children are members of minority groups. Children range in age from birth to 21 years. More than 65% of these children come from homes where there is active substance abuse. With 34,500 children in foster care statewide, the New York State CASA Association (dba CASA: Advocates for Children of NYS) seeks to expand the CASA program both in counties where programs already exist and in new communities, as well as to maintain the quality of program services at the local level.