CASA of Rochester/Monroe County Inc. is a nonprofit volunteer-based agency serving children in Monroe County. CASA, which stands for court appointed special advocates, trains and supervises a diverse group of volunteers to advocate for children who have been abused and/or neglected. These children are at risk of being removed, or have been removed, from their homes. CASA advocates are empowered by the courts and trained by staff to offer the judges critical information they need to ensure children’s needs are addressed. The advocates speak up for the child’s best interests in the community and Family Court until they are placed in a safe, permanent home.
Formed in 1981 through the efforts of the Junior League and Family Court Judge Donald Corbett, the Rochester CASA was the fifth program in the nation. The National CASA Association provides leadership and support, setting standards for the more than 950 CASA programs.
In 2015, CASA of Rochester/Monroe County included 55 volunteer advocates assigned to 80 families. Advocates volunteered 3,368 hours in dealing with their cases. CASA conducted three training series, consisting of 39 hours of online, classroom and court observation activities. Advocates represent all ages and socioeconomic, education and cultural backgrounds.
National CASA outcome studies demonstrate that a child with a CASA advocate:
is more likely to find a safe, permanent home;
is half as likely to re-enter foster care;
is less likely to spend more than three years in care; and
is more likely to succeed in school.
The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are to:
Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.
Appear in court: Advocate for the child’s best interests both in verbal and written reports to the court and all parties.
Explain what is going on: Help the child understand the court proceedings.
“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 families are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about a child’s health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals.
Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held.
Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members.
CASA’s executive director is Elizabeth Caldwell and the office is at 332 Hall of Justice, 99 Exchange Blvd. The agency has one full-time and three half-time paid employees and, in 2015, had 55 trained volunteer advocates working neglect and abuse cases. The website is casarochester.org.
Financial Record Year ended March 31, 2016
Individuals $58,895 35
Special events 42,895 25
Office of Court Administration 28,420 17
Foundations 21,000 13
United Way 6,605 4
Businesses & organizations 3,512 2
Other unrestricted support 7,501 4
Total revenue $168,828
Salaries & wages $101,713 72
Payroll taxes/fees 9,969 7
Office expenses 9,405 7
Professional fees 7,153 5
Program expenses 5,955 4
Insurance 3,849 3
Continuing education 2,198 2
Total expenses $140,242
Excess (deficiency) of revenue over expenses: $28,586
Board of directors
Eric Handelman, president
Leah Bourne, treasurer
Kate Ulrich Saracene
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