CASA Partners (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is dedicated to supporting the local CASA Program and enhancing the lives of abused and neglected children currently in the foster care system in Spokane Country and those children who are at risk of entering the system.
Founded in 1997 by a group of CASA/GALs (Guardians ad Litem), CASA Partners sponsors four direct service projects: My Bag, My School Bag, Bee Kind Garden, and Needs from the Heart.
Beginning with a three-year $30,000 grant from the Junior League of Spokane, and continuing to build with the generous support of many community organizations, businesses, and individual donors, this all volunteer, 501 (c) (3) charitable organization is able to enrich the lives of children in the foster care system.
The more than 1,000 children and youth who are currently living in foster care through Child Protective Service (CPS) are among Spokane County’s most disadvantaged citizens. These children have been severely abused and neglected, and belong to families who have failed them. They rarely have a relative who is willing or able to care for them. They are usually separated from siblings and end up living in foster homes with strangers. They have few, if any, personal belongings. Youngsters living in foster care or relative placement commonly suffer from depression, behavior disturbances, poor health, learning delays, confusion, fear, and loneliness.
CASA Partners is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children placed in the foster care system by allowing them to experience some of the pleasures of being a child.
CASA vs. GAL
Many people ask about the difference between a CASA and a GAL. Both are court appointed advocates who serve as the voice of the child during the course of legal proceedings in Family Court. Both are referred to as a GAL, since both have to adhere to the state laws governing Guardians ad Litem.
A CASA/GAL is a volunteer who has been through the training of the CASA Program. Founded in 1977 in Seattle, Washington, the CASA Program is a national citizen volunteer organization that provides training to individuals who want to advocate for abused and neglected children in Family Court. After the initial training of 30 or more hours, volunteers are sworn in as officers of the Court, which gives them the legal authority to conduct research on a child's situation and submit to the court reports and their recommendations for a child’s welfare. CASA/GALs work strictly as volunteers and deal with abuse, neglect, and abandonment cases referred to them by Child Protective Services.
The GAL program in Superior Court deals with custody disputes and those GALs are paid. They, too, are charged with representing the best interest of the child. Most are attorneys. CASA programs vary from state to state and from one country to the next. Not all programs come under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, as they do in Spokane County.
Board of Directors
President - Julie Wales
Vice President - Michael Addams
Secretary - Lesa Webb
Treasurer - Kevin Driscoll
CASA Program Manager - Patrick Donahue
Coleen Monaghan, Sharell Horwath, Michele Kennedy, Ellen Peller, Debi Shumway, Jacob Fields Joanna Northrup, Christine Hills, Christianne Lindeblad, and Lacie Gimeno