Date of Conferral







Lisa Scharff


The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is an organization that utilizes lay volunteers as advocates for children in foster care to improve outcomes for those children. The effectiveness of CASAs in achieving permanency outcomes for children in foster care has been established; however, the literature has significant methodological flaws and is outdated. The purpose of this study, guided by the theory of change and social cognitive theory, was to explore whether CASA self-efficacy, through a proxy measure of education level, is related to permanency outcomes such as reunification with parents and rate of reentry to the foster care system for children in foster care. Archived data from a CASA database in Southern Idaho were examined using non-parametric statistics. The data included 138 cases, who were served by 78 CASA volunteers. The education of the CASA volunteers was used as the independent variable: 10 had a high school diploma, 23 had some college, and 45 were college graduates. Chi-square analyses indicated that there was no significant relation between the education level of CASA volunteers and permanency outcomes in the individual cases, and also that there was no significant relation between the education level of CASA volunteers and reentry rates of child protection cases on which they have served. The research contributed to social change by increasing awareness of the role the CASA program plays in the lives of children and their families involved in the child welfare system and highlighting the need for current research, as well as establishing that educational level may not be an important factor in the outcomes of CASA cases. Suggested areas for future research include a direct examination of the relation of self-efficacy of CASA volunteers about permanency outcomes and reentry rates with a larger, more generalizable population.