Last updated on August 26, 2014
Family Advocates trains volunteers to provide a voice for abused children and Home Visit to educate families so that all children are safe and nurtured.
Family Advocates is the parent agency for two programs:
The Guardian ad Litem program(or CASA)provides each child in foster care with a trained volunteer to make sure they're treated well while in state custody. A guardian provides a judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child's future. To determine what is in the child's best interest, a guardian visits the child regularly, meets with anyone linked to the child, ensures any medical or psychological victim services are provided, and monitors parents' compliance with court orders. The goal of the CASA program is to ensure children placed in foster are provided with a safe, permanent home.
The Home Visiting program is a voluntary home-based parent education service. Trained, volunteers visit parents in their homes to increase confidence in parenting skills, connect families to community resources and ultimately prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed?. The primary goal of Home Visiting is to help parents keep their families whole and healthy and give their children the best possible start in life. To do this, our volunteers work one-on-one with families to increase knowledge of and confidence in parenting skills.
Two region IV foster families, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Hogin and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Murphy, founded Family Advocate Program in 1978. Both families had provided foster care for over 25 children. As foster parents, they provided unique services in that they encouraged natural parent contact for the benefit of the child and advocated for supportive services for the parents. They believed that many of the children referred to them would be better served in their own homes with supportive, voluntary home visiting services. They also wanted to find some ways to reduce the number of children coming into foster care.
In 1979 the Junior Leagues of Boise helped secure a three year federal grant under the Child Abuse and Neglect Grant Program. Health and Welfare continued to fund the program after the pilot program proved to be a success and United Way began
funding the program in 1984.
In 1998, the Families First program was awarded a grant from the Albertson’s Foundation to implement the Parents as Teachers program, which provides information to increase a parent’s knowledge of child development and ways to stimulate learning. That same year, the agency began coordinating a statewide Idaho Family Education Project through a grant from the US Department of Education.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program launched in late 1979 thanks to the Junior League of Boise that wanted to bring a Guardian ad Litem program from Seattle to Boise. Late in 1980, the Boise Bar Association endorsed the idea and provided assistance in obtaining funding from the American Bar Association to start the program. Initially the program was administered by an advisory committee made up of Family Advocate Program staff and Board, the Boise Bar Association, the Junior League of Boise, the Department of Health & Welfare, the presiding Juvenile Court Magistrate, the Juvenile Deputy prosecutor, the public defender’s office and several community members. The Honorable Richard Grant, Juvenile Magistrate, approved a pilot Guardian ad Litem program in Ada County, with the stipulation that volunteer legal counsel be included in test cases.
1982, the CASA program officially accepted its first child protection referral and the following year the program was formally incorporated as a service administered by Family Advocate Program. In 1988, United Way awarded its first grant to the CASA program.
In 1986, Family Advocate Program was led by Board Member Eric Haff who took an active role with legislators to revise the Child Protection Act. The Act more clearly defined the Guardian Ad Litem role making it a party to the legal action and providing state funding. In 1989, state legislation was passed which provided for the establishment of a CASA program in each of Idaho’s seven judicial districts.
In 2004, CASA received funding from Elmore County Commissioners to open a branch office in Mountain Home to serve cases.
In 2008, Family Advocate Program celebrated its 30th birthday by changing its name to Family Advocates.
In 2013 Family Advocates absorbed the 3rd Judicial District Guardian ad Litem program. We now serve the ten counties of Southwest Idaho. This year we expect our 300 volunteers will serve more than 1400 children.