News and Information from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association

Association News

Dr. Phil Features Foster Youth and Supportive Senators

On October 1, the “No Child Forgotten” episode of the Dr. Phil Show aired, focusing on older youth caught up in the foster care system. Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw are tireless spokespeople for the CASA cause. Appearing on the show were two political leaders at the forefront of improving the lives of youth in care and making changes in the system: Senators Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.

Sen. Grassley announced on the show that week’s release of the caucus’s Call to Action, a set of recommendations to build on successful policy improving the lives of youth in care. The timing of the report corresponded to the second anniversary of the enactment of the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008, the most significant child welfare law in more than a decade.

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Sen. Grassley commended the young people and professionals who volunteered their time to analyze the child welfare system and make suggestions for improvement. “One of the reasons that we set up the caucus was so that we could bring kids in who have dealt with this and been from home to home,” stated Grassley.Permanence is a word I constantly hear from them.”

After hearing about one family’s painful struggle with the child welfare system, Sen. Landrieu noted, “We can avoid some of this heartbreak if the system would be better. We’re spending a lot of money and not getting the results, and we’re committed to changing it.”

Sen. Landrieu also made this plea to viewers: “You could be a CASA volunteer. That’s a fabulous organization. You don’t have to be a lawyer. You just have to have a heart and a passion for kids. Show up and advocate for a child in the system.”

Later in the show, Dr. Phil introduced Sam Martin and Wendy Ruiz, both foster care alumni who served as congressional interns this past year.

Addressing how the viewing audience could help, Sen. Grassley said, “Get your senators to join our caucus. Realize that as a constituent, you can make a difference.”

In the final segment, Dr. Phil introduced Michael Piraino, CEO of National CASA, who said, “We’ve got about 70,000 volunteers right now. We need to triple that. And then we can achieve our goal of serving every child who needs a CASA volunteer.”

Dr. Phil then made a strong pitch: “I want people to understand that everybody in this audience, everybody at home, can become a CASA. Please—this is something that you can do.” He then directed viewers to the website for more information on how to volunteer`

National CASA CEO Michael Piraino (left) in conversation with Dr. Phil McGraw and Steve Davidson, president of the Dr. Phil Foundation

Results of Broadcast

The audience reaction to the October 1 broadcast was the largest response to any Dr. Phil Show since the first episode mentioning CASA programs aired in 2008. We received four times more visitors to our website after the show than during a typical four-day period.

But even more remarkable is that National CASA processed 5,915 volunteer inquiries through its website in those four days compared to the typical 312 inquiries. What’s more, our 2010 volunteer inquiry survey indicates that fully 19% of those inquiring who learn about the CASA movement from the Dr. Phil Show go on to volunteer and take a case. The impact is also reflected in two sample emails from grateful CASA and GAL directors:

Within two hours from the Dr. Phil Show airing, we had received almost 30 inquiries from potential volunteers. Dr. Phil has made a huge difference on a daily basis and is truly inspirational to all of us!

—Frank Prado
   Guardian Ad Litem Program
   20th Judicial Circuit
   Fort Myers, FL

Our director of marketing and recruitment told me she had 80 phone calls yesterday. Wow!

—Susan Kirkland
   CASA of Orange County, CA 

National CASA Earns Renewal of Standards for Excellence Certification

We are proud to announce that National CASA has been recertified by the Standards for Excellence Institute as a leader in commitment to ethics and accountability in the nonprofit sector. This renews our 2007 recognition for excellence by the institute.

To signify certification, National CASA is permitted to feature the Standards for Excellence seal on our website and in printed materials. This seal benefits the organization by identifying us as an “employer of choice” to potential job candidates. In addition, a Standards of Excellence seal increases donor confidence and strengthens their trust that donations are well invested.

“We cannot expect the public to assume we are doing our jobs well,” says National CASA CEO Michael Piraino. “We owe it to the children we serve to make sure our organization is operated effectively, efficiently and ethically.”

For more information, visit


The Connection Recognized with
Three Spotlight Awards

The Connection has been recognized by the League of American Communications Professionals (LACP) with three 2010 Spotlight Awards:

  • A Platinum Award (top prize) for excellence in the magazine/newsletter category
  • A Gold Medal (second prize) for most engaging communications material across all categories
  • 10th most effective communications piece overall

“This year’s entry, The Connection, proves to be remarkable in light of tremendous competition,” says Christine Kennedy, LACP managing director. “More than 1,100 entries were received for the 2010 Spotlight Awards, comprising communications materials from more than a dozen countries. Overall, we find the relevance of this work to be superb, delivering a highly applicable and persuasive message. We classify this entry as being among the top 10 of all communications materials judged by LACP this year.”

The League of American Communications Professionals facilitates best practices within the public relations profession while recognizing those who demonstrate exemplary communications capabilities. More than 40% of Fortune 1000 companies have trusted the organization to evaluate their materials.


Local, State and National CASA Programs Partner at American Legion National Convention

For five days in August, National CASA collaborated with Wisconsin CASA and Kids Matter CASA to exhibit at the American Legion’s annual national convention in Milwaukee. A team of local staff members and CASA volunteers staffed the booth to increase awareness and recruit volunteers nationally.

In addition to being an important national outreach opportunity among nearly 13,000 Legionnaires from across the country—an ideal pool of potential volunteers—the convention was a chance to strengthen National CASA’s relationship with the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation. The booth was part of “Foundation Row,” a special section of exhibitors consisting of nonprofits the foundation has supported.

The foundation recently announced that it will fund National CASA’s development of a Volunteer Flex Training Pre-Service Curriculum that will be made available to CASA programs later this year. The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation is a longtime supporter of National CASA, with grants funding national volunteer recruitment and training initiatives benefiting the network as a whole.

At the convention, National CASA also had the opportunity to make a presentation to the American Legion’s National Children and Youth Commission. The speaking team was led by Bill Fowler, veteran and executive director of the Nevada CASA Association, who has successfully partnered with the American Legion in his state to recruit volunteers as well as raise awareness and funds. Fowler was accompanied by Lance Jones, program manager at Kids Matter CASA in Milwaukee, and Jessica Holden, a former foster youth served by Kids Matter.

Bill Fowler (left), executive director of the Nevada CASA Association, former CASA-served youth Jessica Holden and Lance R. Jones, JD, program manager at Kids Matter CASA in Milwaukee, spoke at the American Legion’s annual national convention.

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