This report presents the methodology, findings, and recommendations from an evaluation of Virginia's Court-Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA).
In 1990 the Virginia General Assembly established the CASA Program. CASAs are volunteers who serve as child advocates in juvenile court proceedings. They are primarily involved in abuse/neglect cases and less frequently in cases of custody and children in need of supervision or children in need of services. The research reported in this document was conducted to provide an intensive process evaluation of the program, as well as a small-scale impact evaluation in three sites (Fairfax, Lynchburg, and Virginia Beach). The evaluation findings are based on several types of data: interviews with CASA program directors; surveys of CASA program directors, CASA volunteers, judges, social workers, and guardian ad litems; and a file review data from CASA, court, and social services files in the three sites. The findings show that the program has been well-received and is providing many of the benefits intended; however, the evaluators identified several areas where program administration and operation can be improved. These areas include the exploration of geographical expansion to rural sites; strategies for program start-up; role clarification for CASAs, social workers, and guardian ad litems; training and procedures for database development and management; creation of standardized forms for program data collection and evaluation; training for CASA program directors; and reviewing and redefining the scope of the program. 11 tables
Date Published: January 1, 1996
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