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Advocacy and Public Policy Update

In collaboration with CASA/GAL state organizations and local programs, the National CASA Association raises awareness of, and attention to, the CASA/GAL mission with Members of Congress and government officials at the federal level, and also partners with organizations in support of policies that improve outcomes for abused and neglected children. National CASA Association also partners with CASA/GAL programs on government relations at the state and local level. 

Get Involved

Be a voice for CASA/GAL programs across the country, and for the abused and neglected children they serve, by reaching out to your Senators and Representative.

  • Send a message to your Senators and Representative using our legislative advocacy tool
  • Use our Congressional leave behind materials in meetings with your Senators and Representative
  • Spread the word on Twitter or Facebook about the need for full funding of the CASA Program

Contact National CASA Advocacy Staff with questions about critical legislation issues. Email advocacy@casaforchildren.org or call 800.628.3233, ext. 304


The Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 (VOCAA) established the CASA Program, funded through the Department of Justice, which was reauthorized in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2013 at $12 million. National CASA Association seeks full funding of the CASA Program in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. 

The House-passed version of the FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 2578) includes $6 million in CASA funding, while the Senate bill, which was favorably reported out of the Appropriations Committee in June, provides $12 million in CASA funding from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) account, in dollars that are apart from assistance grants administered by state agencies.

The appropriations process stalled in the summer of 2015 over a partisan impasse on spending limits. Congress passed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for FY 2016 until December 11. In late October, Congressional leaders and the White House reached an agreement to raise the spending caps, but that Bipartisan Budget Act also raided the Crime Victims Fund with a permanent $1.5 billion cut. Appropriators in Congress were left to determine how to manage the cut, and it remains uncertain how the outcome will affect CASA program funding though the Department of Justice, as well as dollars available for state-administered Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants.

Current Federal Legislation

New federal legislation on foster care reforms has been introduced in late 2015, particularly on the Senate side. Several bills were announced at an August 4 hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on “Preserving Families and Reducing the Need for Foster Care,” including bills on kinship care, foster care prevention initiatives through IV-E and new funding, reducing congregate care, and mandates on mental health evaluations; sponsors are from both sides of aisle. National CASA is working with state directors to reach out and provide feedback to bill sponsors.

S.2166Timely Mental Health for Foster Youth Act

Introduced in Senate (10/08/2015) by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Mandates that state plans for child welfare services shall require an initial mental health screening of any child in foster care be completed not later than 30 days after the date the child enters into foster care and, in the case of any child in foster care for whom a mental health issue is identified in such initial screening, that a comprehensive assessment of the mental health of the child be completed not later than 60 days after the date the child enters into foster care. 

S.1964 — Family Stability and Kinship Care Act of 2015
Introduced in Senate (03/04/2015) by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Enables states to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements through the provision of time-limited family services and expanded kinship supports. Enhances federal funding available under parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act for prevention and family services to help keep children safe and supported at home with their parents or other family members, gives states and tribes the flexibility to adapt evidence-based family services to the specific needs of each family, and ensures that states and tribes are held accountable for allocating services in ways that maximize safety, permanency, and well-being for children, while minimizing the prevalence of lengthy foster care placements. Key components include:

  • Allows title IV-E reimbursement for time-limited (up to 12 months) family services (such as family skills training, family counseling, and concrete goods and services to stabilize a family in crisis) when those services are needed to prevent entry into foster care or allow children to safely exit foster care to family placement.
  • Defines eligible population as children identified as candidates for foster care (at imminent risk of entry into foster care) or who are in foster care, as well as to these children’s family members. Provides reimbursement for these services without regard to the income of the child’s biological parents.
  • After a 3-year implementation phase, establishes national performance measures and outcomes-based reimbursement rates to target federal dollars to cost-effective services.
  • Increases funding (by $470 million per year) for community-based prevention and intervention services through the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program in title IV-B.
  • Requires research and technical assistance to ensure appropriate service delivery and prioritization of evidence-based prevention and post-permanency interventions.

S.1932 — All Kids Matter Act

Introduced in Senate (08/04/2015) by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Michael Crapo (R-ID)

Gives states more flexibility to use Title IV-E federal child welfare funds for prevention, intervention, and support services before, during and after placement in foster care. Increases accountability to ensure appropriate measures are taken to reduce the number of kids in congregate care. Requires states to issue regular, publicly available reports on their child welfare system performance.


S.1852, H.R.3641 — Health Insurance for Former Foster Youth Act

Introduced in the House (09/29/2015) by Representative Karen Bass (D-CA-37)

Introduced in Senate (07/23/2015) by Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA)

Amends title XIX of the Social Security Act to ensure health insurance coverage continuity under Medicaid for former foster youth, by allowing coverage in states other than where youth was in foster care.


S.1639 — Educational Stability for Foster Youth Act

Introduced in the Senate (06/18/2015) by Senator Al Franken (D-MN)

Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure there is collaboration among schools to allow a child in foster care to remain in and be transported to his or her school of origin if in the child’s best interest, or immediately be enrolled in new school and transfer academic records.


S.1439, H.R.3160 — Foster Youth Independence Act of 2015

Introduced in Senate (05/21/2015) by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Introduced in House (07/16/2015) by Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)

Amends part E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act to allow the chief executive officer of a state to certify that the state will provide assistance and services under the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to youths who have aged out of foster care and have not attained age 23 if:

  • the state has elected to extend the eligibility for foster care up to age 21, or
  • the responsible state agency uses state or other funds not provided under the Program to provide assistance and services comparable to those such youths would receive if the state had made such an election.

S.1254 — Families for Foster Youth Stamp Act of 2015

Introduced in Senate (05/07/2015) by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Requires the United States Postal Service, for a period of at least four years, to provide for the issuance and sale of a “semipostal” (postage stamp issued to raise money and sold at a premium over the postal value) in order to increase funding for effective programs targeted at improving permanency outcomes for youth in foster care. Requires any amounts becoming available from the sale of the semipostal to be transferred to the Secretary of Health and Human Services for programs and activities under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act (CAPTA) of 1978 that specifically target improvement in permanency outcomes for youth in foster care through adoption, guardianship, or kinship care.


S.429, H.R.835 — Family-Based Foster Care Services Act

Introduced in Senate (02/10/2015) by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), also Senators Stabenow, Casey, Brown

Introduced in the House 02/13/2015 by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (C-CT) and Tom Cole (R-OK)

Amends title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to extend medical assistance coverage to therapeutic foster care services, and defines the term.

Requires a qualified therapeutic foster care program to be state-licensed and provide:

  • foster care children under 21 with structured daily activities, including the development of age-appropriate social, communication and behavioral skills, trauma-informed and gender-responsive services, crisis intervention and crisis support services, medication monitoring, counseling, and case management; and

  • biological parents, kinship caregivers, and foster care parents with specialized training and consultation in the management of children with mental illness, trauma, other emotional or behavioral disorders, medically fragile conditions, or developmental disabilities, the impact of trauma on child and caregiver, and specific additional training on the needs of each child provided such services.

Current Regulatory Action

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Proposed Rulemaking on Overtime Compensation

On June 30, 2015, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rulemaking to amend regulations governing overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. There has been confusion about whether these changes will affect CASA/GAL programs. While the proposed revision would raise the salary threshold for employees to qualify for overtime compensation (from $23,660 to $50,440), the two standards which result in our programs being exempt would remain intact: CASA/GAL programs do not have business (non-charitable) revenue of at least $500K (Enterprise Coverage), nor are regularly involved in commerce between states (Individual Coverage). State law may differ, and will still apply.

Independent Sector, an association for nonprofit organizations of which National CASA is a member, prepared a summary of the Department of Labor Proposed Rule to Revise Overtime Regulations, and also submitted comments on behalf of its member organizations.




The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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