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Youth experiencing abuse or neglect

Why Become CASA/GAL?

The Problem: An Overwhelmed System

Child abuse and neglect is more common than most people realize. Nationwide 1 in 7 children have experienced abuse and neglect. Those living in families with low socioeconomic status may experience neglect or abuse at rates up to 5 times higher due to the added stress poverty places on the parent or caregiver.

The short-term consequences to the child may include bruises and broken bones along with emotional or behavioral issues and PTSD. Long-term a child is at higher risk of educational struggles, delayed brain development, higher risk of additional victimization or becoming a perpetrator, sexual abuse, substance abuse, health issues, and lower employment opportunities. (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention | Fast Facts: Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect)

During 2021 in Washington State:

  • 19,719 children were investigated by Child Protective Services ultimately resulting in 4,262 children being placed in out-of-home care.
  • More than 6,000 children were in out-of-home care on any given day
  • The average child spends more than 1 year in out-of-home care
    (Source: DCYF 2022 Annual Progress and Services Report)

Out-of-Home Care

When it is determined a child cannot remain safely in their home, they are placed in out-of-home care. Once a child is removed, called "dependency",  the child welfare system works to find a safe and permanent home for the child, beginning with the child's extended family. Most children will reunify with their parents after all safety concerns have been addressed. However, some children's cases will close with other permanency outcomes such as guardianship or adoption.

How long does it take to find a permanent and safe home for children?

Forty-five percent of children served whose cases closed spent between 6 and 29 months in out-of-home care, with 17% spending between 12 and 23 months. Twenty-five percent of children involved in closed cases spent an unknown or untracked amount of time in out-of-home care.

(Source: National CASA 2021 Annual Local Program Survey Report - Washington)

The Challenge: Not Enough Resources

In 2021

  • Local CASA/GAL programs served 2,431 children in Washington state who were experiencing abuse and neglect
  • 794 CASA/GAL volunteers were the voice for  for 1,932 children experiencing abuse and neglect
  • 1,222 children were placed in a safe and permanent home. Of those, 27% were adopted and 25% were reunified with their family.

(Source: National CASA 2021 Annual Local Program Survey Report - Washington)

Why become a CASA/GAL: Proven Success

  • CASA /GAL volunteers are screened, trained and supported by CASA/GAL staff.
  • CASA/GAL volunteers form a one-on-one relationship with a child and get the full picture of the case.
  • Judges depend on CASA/GAL volunteers for critical information to help them make the most well-informed decisions.
  • In 2018, children with a CASA/GAL volunteer reached a permanent home faster, when compared with all children in out-of-home care.

Children who have experienced abuse or neglect fare better with a CASA/GAL volunteer by their side. Studies have shown:

  • They are more likely to find a safe, permanent home.
  • They are more likely to succeed in school.
  • They are half as likely to re-enter the foster care system.

(Source: National CASA/GAL for Children)

CASA/GAL volunteers impact in a nationwide movement

In 2021, there were 939 state and local programs across the nation that reported the following data:

Category Number or Percentage Details of Data Details of Data Details of Data
Children Served 242,000 74% under age 12 45% under age 6 Children under age 6 represent 45% of all children in foster care
Race/Ethnicity Demographics of Children Served 49.3% White 22.3% Black or African American 13% Hispanic (of any race)
National Children's Population by Race 51% White 14% Black or African American 25% Hispanic (of any race)
Living in Out-of-Home Care 58% 40% in non-relative foster family home 28% in relative foster home 12% under court protection while remaining in homes of origin
CASA/GAL Volunteers 92,400

Hours Served 4.3 million

Median Tenure of Volunter 39 Months

Most Common Length of Time a Volunteer Was Assigned to a Child 1-2 years

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