For over twenty-five years, CASAs volunteers have provided “day-of court” advocacy for children and youth who are experiencing their first time in court, or are attending court without a guardian or escort. The Shelter Care program helps to orient foster youth to courtroom procedures, with volunteers escorting them to court appointments and hearings, and waiting for them throughout the day. For many youth, their time in court is a terrifying and vulnerable experience. Having a CASA volunteer attend the appearance can help alleviate their fears, and help them feel supported by an adult who has their best interests at heart. Last year, CASAs helped 5,495 children and youth with this Shelter Care assistance.
These volunteer Children Court Assistants are critical advocates for these children, frequently explaining to them what took place in court and corresponding with the attorneys if there is any confusion on behalf of the child. After the court hearings, the Court Assistants escort the children back to the Shelter Care area. In the case of siblings who have been separated, Children’s Court Assistants will also offer to take photos of them together to take back to their foster homes. For CASA Trudy Armer, Shelter Care has offered her another opportunity to help foster children and youth, especially for those who are experiencing the courtroom process for the first time, or who are negotiating complicated cases without a guardian by their side.