Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero) announced that legislation he authored to give a stronger voice to vulnerable children in our court system has been signed into law (Ch. 291 of 2018). The new law standardizes the administration and operation of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs statewide.

“Court proceedings can be terrifying and triggering experiences for children who’ve suffered abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers,” said Stirpe. “These kids need a dedicated, compassionate advocate who’ll fight for their best interests – that’s where the CASA program comes in. My legislation will help protect children and enable CASA to expand to every corner of the state.”

CASA of New York State (CASANYS) was established in 1991 to advocate for children in cases of abuse and neglect. Trained volunteers are appointed by Family Court judges and provide detailed reports about the needs and life circumstances of the children as well as advocate on their behalf. This new law is expected to standardize these programs, ensuring that quality CASA programs exist across the state. CASANYS currently has over 600 volunteers who operate in 30 counties, representing more than 3,000 children each year.

This new law builds on Stirpe’s advocacy for children. Earlier this year, he successfully helped increase funding for the Foster Youth Initiative to $6 million to help foster students pursue higher education. Stirpe also secured increased school aid for all students in this year’s state budget and successfully fought to eliminate a penalty the North Syracuse Central School District was facing due to past filing errors for school capital improvement projects.