Four CASA Programs in King County
Family Law CASA of King County is our program; we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization funded entirely through community support (individual donations, private foundations, corporate sponsorship of our two annual events, and donations made at the events). We are one of the few CASA programs that receive no government funding. We are appointed by Judges and Commissioners in King County Superior Court – in both the Regional Justice Center (Kent) and the Downtown Seattle Courthouse. We work on cases initiated by private parties: dissolution (divorce), paternity (unmarried parents), third party custody cases (a grandparent, uncle/aunt, or family friend is attempting to adopt and terminate parental rights), or modifications to existing parenting plans. These cases are all governed by laws in Title 26 of the Revised Code of Washington (our state’s laws). We utilize volunteer advocates who have gone through our 21 hour training and who work under the direct supervision of our three Advocate Supervisors, who are Masters level social workers. We have one paid attorney, and the Executive Director is also a licensed attorney. There is no right to representation in family law matters; in more than 70% of our cases at least one parent doesn’t have representation and attends court alone. In the vast majority of our cases there are no social workers, child or parent evaluators, and the CASA advocate is the only outside/objective party.
Dependency CASA in King County is a program operated within the Superior Court and housed in Juvenile Court and in the Regional Justice Center in Kent. Their budget is fully funded by the State government. Their cases are filed by the State Attorney General’s Office as a result of a complaint to CPS (Children’s Protective Services) that raises an issue of parental unfitness and/or neglect. These cases involve the state removing the child(ren) from the parent’s household, and placing them in foster care. The cases are governed under the laws of Title 13 of the Revised Code of Washington. The agency operates with volunteers that they train, who are supervised by their staff. They have 3 staff attorneys and 14 other staff including their director. In dependency cases each parent has a right to representation, paid for by the state. The child is a party to the case and is also represented by an attorney, provided by the State. In addition to the advocate, there is also a court-appointed social worker who investigates and interviews the parties. The court can also receive objective information through CPS and other appointed professionals. Advocate reports tend to be shorter in dependency cases, and the cases they deal with can run longer than the cases we deal with in Family Law. In dependency cases each child has a separate advocate.
Washington State CASA is a membership organization that provides administrative support and oversees and supports all of the CASA programs within Washington. They do not provide any direct service work. They are funded by the State of Washington and seek some community support. We are a member of Washington State CASA. State CASA translates the requirements from National CASA to the training required in Washington State, gives out small program grants, trains the trainers, and puts on a conference for existing advocates each year.
National CASA is the administrative overseer for all dependency programs in the country, and like Washington State CASA, they provide no direct services. They are funded through the federal government. Their office is in Seattle. We are not a member as they deal primarily with dependency only programs, however they did authorize our use of the name CASA. They set training requirements, case load standards, etc. Washington State CASA interacts directly with them.