By definition, an advocate is a person who speaks on behalf of someone else, implying that a person (such as in court) would be unable to speak for themselves. While the definition implies an attorney or barrister, in the United States, an advocate in a court-appointed position is a person who specifically helps abused and neglected children.
What is the Origin of an Advocate in Court?
Understanding what the legal definition is requires a bit of a history lesson. In 1977, in Seattle, Superior Court Judge David Soukup had to make a decision based only on one-sided evidence of Washington’s Child Protective Services Department. The judge decided that there should be another party, someone who could speak up for the child’s interests. He reasoned that a volunteer would qualify for this position. Fifty volunteers were used for this case and from that point on, the “advocate” position only grew nationally.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Now CASA, the evolution of that small beginning, works on a national scale. Some agencies even receive money from the federal or state government, though this is not by any means standardized. The CASA agency works on grants, as well as working partnerships with private organizations. CASA then grants funding to other agencies, usually at the state level. Within the past 20 years or so, over 125 million dollars has been funded for advocate causes.
The ideal here is that children should be represented and ultimately want a loving family to call their own. Furthermore, every court should be made aware of the importance of CASA and advocates, parties that stand for children and their interests and rights. The CASA organization also helps keep the programs culturally and racially diverse.
What Advocates Do
These organizations ensure that advocates can easily be called upon all over the United States. Different locations can vary, and there is the need for an organization to reach out to new territories. In order for you to be an advocate who can work in this capacity, you must be properly trained in assessing family situations, as well as how to read the testimony of a child. This will allow you to represent the child’s interest above all else. Training will take approximately 30 hours in class and 10 hours in observing real court cases.
Today over 77,000 advocates are actively working to further this cause and this legitimate courtroom position. CASA works in over 900 program offices across the nation and continue to help hundreds of thousands of children get the stable and loving home environment they need.
Imagine being able to work in this capacity and make a difference in the life of a child! This position does not require heavy education, but a willingness to learn. It does help, of course, to have a resume and have some formal knowledge of psychology, particularly child psychology. This is where schools like the ones listed below can help you to thrive. Gain more information about being an advocate in court and explore all of your options by filling out the school forms below.