CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Tulsa CASA recruits, screens, trains and supervises community volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. They are specially trained volunteers who are appointed by a juvenile judge to serve as the child’s voice in court. A CASA is responsible for meeting with and gathering information from the child, their family, other individuals and service providers on a child’s case. This information is compiled in a report to the court illustrating the CASA’s concerns, assessments and recommendations. This information assists the judge in determining the best possible placement for a child.
Recently, Child Protection Coalition staff spoke with Maura Wilson-Guten, Tulsa CASA’s Executive Director, regarding the challenges and rewards of her work.
CPC: What are the challenges you face within the child welfare system in Tulsa County?
Ms. Wilson-Guten: Our biggest challenge is having enough volunteers to serve the nearly 2,000 children in foster care in Tulsa County. Presently there are only enough CASAs to serve on about 25% of the cases. Our wish is to provide a CASA for every child who needs one.
CPC: What do you feel are the positive impacts you make on kids’ lives in our community?
Ms. Wilson-Guten: CASAs are known as “a powerful voice in a child’s life” We know that children who have a CASA receive more services, do better in school, find permanency faster and are less likely to re-enter the child welfare system than children without a CASA.
CPC: What is one thing you would like the public to know about your job?
Ms. Wilson-Guten: Upon learning of a CASA’s role many people say “oh, I could never do that” but you can! All it takes is one caring adult to change the life of a child. CASAs are assigned after a child has been removed from an abusive situation and assist in helping them find a safe, permanent home. We are part of the solution.
CPC: Why are you a part of the Child Protection Coalition in Tulsa County?
Ms. Wilson-Guten: The Child Protection Coalition is probably the single most important professional organization that we are a member of. Very few professional fields possess a network as powerful and unified as child welfare does. The system collaboration that exists in CPC is remarkable and effective and the child clients our organizations mutually serve are better off because of it.
CASA Volunteers at Official Swearing In by Judge Hiddle
Thank you to all our Tulsa County CASA Volunteers for their hard work and dedication!
Learn more about Tulsa CASA, including how to volunteer, by visiting their website today! www.tulsacasa.org