Child development experts know that in order for a child to grow up as a healthy, functioning and productive member of society, a permanent home and family is key, which is why one of the three goals established by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 asserts that permanency planning should begin as soon as a child enters foster care.
Children thrive when there are committed adults in their environment who they can depend on to help them in school, provide a safe and emotionally stable atmosphere, attend important events and activities on their behalf, and support their long-term well-being. This network of support not only helps to reverse the effects of trauma, it also promotes greater academic success, more stable and positive mental health outcomes, social development, and more successful adulthoods.
CASAs support this process by:
- Reporting back to the judge on any efforts in place that may benefit (or be detrimental to) the child’s attainment of permanency;
- Making recommendations to the judge for the child’s best outcome—whether reunification with a parent, living with another relative, placement in a foster or group home, or adoption;
- Participating in cases of successful and timely adoption by identifying and supporting permanent adoptive homes, recognizing barriers, and collaborating with court and community partners to reduce these barriers; and
- Supporting the process of successful legal guardianship by monitoring the progress of the guardianship and ensuring that, when possible, a child is reunified with a stable and secure family member.
For CASA Linda Mokler, her work on finding speech therapy for two sisters, both under the age of 5, led her back to their birth mother, who was fighting to be the best mother she could be so that she could be reunited with her children. Linda helped to make that permanent reunification possible.