CASA needs guardians to speak for children in some court cases

by Daniel Moore

Press Staff Writer

A Pocatello non-profit that provides “guardians” for children in child protection cases needs more volunteers.

The only requirement is for volunteers to love and want to help children, said Patty Porath, who supervises volunteers in the Power County area for Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA.

When a child is involved in a case where the court intervenes to protect them, the court can appoint an advocate for the child. The advocate meets with the child and the family and becomes an outside voice to a judge of what the best option for the child may be, Porath explained.

A state-hired case worker also identifies the needs of the family. However, case workers must follow state law, which is to place children back with their parents as much as possible, and so case workers are also representing the parents as much as the child, Porath said. A CASA guardian has the independence to give an opinion representing the child’s point of view outside of the state’s jurisdiction.

CASA director Jared Marschand said they try to give CASA guardians one or two cases to oversee.

“We try not to overload them,” he said.

However, there are plenty of children to represent. Marschand said there were over 45 children needing representation in Power County last year, and this year looks to be the same as last year.

Without someone to specifically represent them, children can find…
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