CASA-NYC plays a crucial and unique role in assisting New York City’s overburdened family court system to meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable children. Our mission is to ensure that young people involved in the child welfare system have their needs met and rights protected, and that children in foster care are moved quickly into safe, stable, nurturing and permanent homes -- with their families of origin whenever possible. Children and youth in foster care have most often been removed from their homes because of allegations of abuse and neglect by their parents or caregivers. The majority come from households deeply impacted by chronic poverty, structural racism, intergenerational trauma, and other related factors that destabilize families and put children at risk of foster care placement.

While in foster care, young people face multiple threats to their healthy development, including low educational attainment, compromised brain functioning, inadequate social skills, and physical and mental health difficulties. Older youth aging out of foster care without family supports are at high risk for chronic poverty and related outcomes including homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, health issues, and early pregnancy, which in turn puts their children at risk of poverty and child welfare system involvement.

CASA-NYC’s model of advocacy works with the entire family with the goals of maintaining familial ties and, when safely possible, reuniting families. In 2022, young people leaving foster care who had a CASA volunteer advocate were more likely to be reunified with their parents or guardians than children without a volunteer advocate (65% compared to 53%), despite the fact that we are typically appointed to the most complex cases with the greatest barriers to reunification. When CASA-NYC is assigned to a case, we not only become a part of the young person’s support system, we often become the architects of a new, stronger, and more enduring support system.