The CASA Mission
Provide court advocacy and support in the 5th Judicial District of Colorado for abused and neglected children in pursuit of safe and permanent homes.
The History of CASA of the Continental Divide (CASACD)
In 1977, a Seattle juvenile court judge concerned about making drastic decisions with insufficient information conceived the idea of citizen volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. The program has grown into a national network of nearly 1,000 CASA and guardian ad litem programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
CASA of the Continental Divide (CASACD) was established as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in February 1999. Originally, CASACD served children in Summit and Eagle counties. Services then expanded to Clear Creek and Lake counties in 2001 and 2002.
Our first case was assigned in March 2000. In the first year and a half we provided services in Eagle and Summit counties. We began providing services in Clear Creek County in 2001 and in Lake County in January 2002.
CASA of the Continental Divide provides educational advocacy for the counties we serve. Truancy advocacy began in 2015 with the Summit County School District. In January 2020 we began our work in truancy in Eagle County.
Programs and Accomplishments
Child Advocacy: The heart of our program is serving children who are involved in a Dependency & Neglect (D&N) case. These children have been abused or neglected by their parents, and, nearly always, removed from their home. Each D&N case referred by a judge is assigned a CASA volunteer who makes a commitment to advocate for the child/ren for the duration of the case, for perhaps as long as twelve to eighteen months.
A CASA volunteer’s Job is to:
1) Determine if an appropriate plan for reunification with their parents has been created for the child, that appropriate services are being provided to the child and family, and whether the treatment plan is progressing in a timely manner.
2) Determine if it is in a child’s best interest to stay with his or her parents or guardians, be placed in foster care, or be freed for adoption. The CASA volunteer makes a recommendation on placement to the judge, and remains active on the case until it is permanently resolved.
3) To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer conducts an independent investigation that includes interviews with the child, parents, family members, social workers, school personnel, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child – historically and currently. The CASA volunteer has authorized access to all records relating to the child, parent, legal guardian, or other parties in interest, as the court deems necessary.
Approximately 80% of our cases are the result of parental substance abuse. We collaborate with the Departments of Human Services, Guardians ad Litem, and other professionals providing services to the child or family, such as Child Find, chemical dependency treatment, parenting training, schools, and counselors.
CASA Truancy Program: Truancy is a symptom of something occurring in a child’s life. Since attendance is mandated by law within the State of Colorado, when the school has been unsuccessful at correcting attendance issues the next step is to open a court-centered truancy case. The Judge often appoints a Truancy CASA to assist both the courts and the families in discovering what the issue is preventing school attendance and school success. CASA’s are instrumental in identifying supportive services that will bring the child success. Supporting Kids to the best of our abilities and advocating for their success is our goal. Eagle County experienced over 120 truancy cases in the 2018-19 school year. CASA volunteers are now at the table to help determine the causes and reduce the number of cases within the county.
Who We Are & What We Do
CASA of the Continental Divide consists of 3 full time and 3 part time staff. Our programs is guided by our Board of Directors who bring their valuable skills from the community to our program. Our programs are driven by Child Advocate Volunteers who work hard making sure that the child they serve is being cared for well and receiving loving support through a difficult process. Each year our Volunteers and Board Members donate over 5000+ hours of their time and drive over 45,000 miles on behalf of CASA and the children we serve.
CASA of the Continental Divide provides court requested advocacy for abused and neglected children in Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District. Our goal is to be appointed for, and have volunteers serving 100% of child welfare and truancy cases throughout the district.
CASA of the Continental Divide serves a large area of the Colorado mountain region. Our program covers the 3,069 square miles of Eagle, Lake, Summit, and Clear Creek Counties. We attend proceedings at 4 Court Houses, work with 4 Departments of Human Services, and attend to advocacy for children in foster care who are living in Eagle, Lake, Summit and Clear Creek Counties. Due to lack of foster families within the child’s home counties the children are often placed in Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and sometimes even out of state. Our Volunteers make a huge impact and commitment when they Advocate for Kids in need.