Since 1986, CASA of Cook County has been part of the National CASA network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to ensuring that children in the welfare system receive one-to-one advocacy. The mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Cook County is to advance and safeguard the best interest of children who have experienced abuse and neglect, utilizing Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA volunteers). CASA volunteer advocates are trained, unpaid citizens who are court appointed to advocate for children in state protective care and act as objective “eyes and ears” of the court. They submit reports to the court to ensure that child safety and well-being (family, health, home, and school) is at the forefront of court decisions, thereby enhancing positive outcomes and reducing the likelihood of foster care “drift,” or lengthy placement without movement toward court resolution. The vision of CASA of Cook County is to meet the needs of every child in the county’s foster care system that is not receiving one-to-one advocacy. While there are over 18,000 children in child protective care in
Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) reports a
disproportionate number of these children are of color. The overall
rate in Illinois is well over 65%; in Cook County, more than 90% of the
children in foster care are of color and disproportionately African
American (65%). Children served by CASA of Cook County reflect the
population of children in foster care in Cook County and are primarily
low-income, minority, and disproportionately African American.