While CASA DC serves any child in foster care, we have created four programs to provide targeted support to specific populations in need.
Family Treatment Court (FTC) Program
DC’s Family Treatment Court (FTC) focuses on reunifying families who have experienced neglect due to substance abuse. The voluntary intensive program takes a holistic approach, focusing not only on sobriety but strengthening the family as a whole for a successful future. In partnership with the interdisciplinary Family Treatment Court team, all FTC youth are referred for CASAs. CASA volunteers engage FTC youth in positive activities and ongoing support. As the case moves towards reunification, CASAs work closely with the family, advocating for supports and resources to promote a strengthened parent/child relationship.
The majority of youth 10 and under served by CASA DC are referred through the Family Treatment Court. This program also allows for increased advocacy and communication with the Court. CASA’s FTC program manager appears in Court each week at FTC meetings where, based on the CASA volunteers’ work, regular advocacy and updates on the children and family are provided. Family Treatment Court is CASA DC’s largest special program.
Preparing Youth for Adulthood (PYA) Program
The Preparing Youth for Adulthood (PYA) initiative was established in 2007 to better address the needs of youth transitioning from foster care into adulthood. The PYA program is focused on building necessary life skills and empowering youth to be self-sufficient and prepared for adulthood by their 21st birthday. A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) will be assigned to each participating youth to assist in all aspects of the transition, including hearings, Youth Transition Planning (YTP) meetings and Preparations meetings with the judge. The CASA will work with the youth and the team to increase youth engagement, develops socio-economic skills and a strong positive sense of identity. The PYA program also includes quarterly hands-on activities and strives to create a meaningful community with all PYA participants.
PYA remains an important piece of the Family Court system, as many young people are not prepared to be independent, functioning and productive adults when they emancipate.
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program
In January of 2015, CASA began working with Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) that are in care. For refugee minors, the State Department identifies children overseas who are eligible for resettlement in the United States, but do not have a parent or a relative available and committed to providing for their long-term care. Upon arrival in the U.S., these refugee children are placed into care and receive refugee foster care services and benefits. CASA volunteers that are assigned to a URM youth provide support, not only culturally, but in providing assistance in minimizing the daily stressors that may occur as they assimilate to living in the U.S. CASA volunteers provide their youth opportunities to practice their English as at times it may be difficult to express their worries and concerns. Through positive experiences CASA volunteers and their youth build a relationship that continues to grow as the young person adjusts to his or her new environment.
BRIDGES Program (Previously the JBDP/PINS Program)
In 2015 the Juvenile Behavioral Diversion Program (JBDP)/Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) program was established at CASA DC to expand our services and volunteer model to serve court-involved-youth referred from the juvenile justice system for delinquency or status offenses.
In 2018 CASA DC began focusing efforts on learning more about the juvenile justice system in DC, and evaluating both cases in the JBDP/PINS program, and the programs at CASA DC at large. We learned that 1) we were working with many foster youth encountering the juvenile justice system, but this issue was not being captured in our current advocacy model, and 2) the JBDP/PINS program had grown far beyond its original concept. We focused on providing more training to all advocates and staff working with youth coming into contact with the juvenile justice system, advocating for the particular issues those youth may be facing, and building relationships with our strategic partners, such as Court Social Services.
While we are still focused on these efforts, what this journey told us is that it was time to make a bigger change! We have since retired the JBDP/PINS program and replaced it with the BRIDGES Program. The BRIDGES Program will formalize the efforts described above to allow CASA advocates to better understand and leverage their position as advocates working with any of our youth encountering the juvenile justice system._BRIDGES Flyer - Community