The BRIDGES program provides CASA volunteers to court-involved youth in DC who have encountered the juvenile justice system. In doing so, CASA volunteers apply the basic principles of working with a team of professionals to advocate for the best interest of the child, as well as providing that child with a consistent relationship to a trusted adult. The aim of the BRIDGES Program is to do everything in our power to prevent youth from becoming multi-system involved, decrease instances of recidivism, and to promote diversion opportunities. Most importantly, the aim of the program is to empower court-involved youth to build BRIDGES – to Be Resilient, be Individuals, be Determined, be Great, be Educated, and be Safe.
History of the BRIDGES program
In 2015 the Juvenile Behavioral Diversion Program (JBDP)/Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) program was established at CASA DC to expand CASA volunteer's services and volunteer model to serve court-involved youth referred from the juvenile justice system for delinquency or status offenses. In 2018 CASA DC began focusing efforts on learning more about the juvenile justice system in DC, and evaluating both cases in the JBDP/PINS program, and CASA’s programs at large. We found that 1) many foster youth referred to CASA DC were involved in the juvenile justice system, but their needs were not met with our current model and 2) the JBDP/PINS program had grown far beyond its original concept. CASA DC focused on providing more training to all advocates and staff working with youth coming into contact with the juvenile justice system, advocating for the particular issues those youth may be facing, and building relationships with our strategic partners, such as Court Social Services.
BRIDGES Program Expansion
CASA for Children of DC is pleased to announce the official launch of their BRIDGES expansion program! Under the expansion program, BRIDGES will provide Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to all youth encountering the juvenile justice system in Washington, DC.
CASA DC began research in 2018 regarding the needs of youth involved in the juvenile justice system in Washington, DC. CASA DC focused on providing specialized training for advocates working with youth and advocating for the particular issues that they may be facing. In June of 2019, CASA DC launched the BRIDGES program to serve youth in specialty courts (JDPB, PINS, HOPE, etc). The BRIDGES program is combining its efforts to support all youth who have encountered the juvenile justice system under one program. CASA DC will be able to provide specialized training to advocates around the unique needs of this population, which will lead to better outcomes and a reduction in recidivism.
The mission of the BRIDGES Program at CASA for Children of DC is to provide advocates to court-involved-youth in the District of Columbia. In particular, addressing the intersectional needs of crossover youth and youth who are involved in specialty courts. In doing so, CASA volunteer's provide the basic principles of working with a team of professionals for the best interest of the child, as well as providing that child with a consistent relationship with a trusted adult.
The aim of the BRIDGES program is to do everything in our power to prevent youth from becoming multi-system involved, decrease recidivism, and to promote diversion opportunities. The BRIDGES program focuses on empowering court-involved youth to build BRIDGES, that is, to be resilient, be individuals, be determined, be great, be educated, and be safe!
CASA DC is proud to launch a program that focuses on encouraging youth to know their rights, skill development, rehabilitation, and advocacy. CASA DC is committed to enriching the lives of youth that we serve.
BRIDGES CASA Volunteers
Interested in becoming a BRIDGES CASA Volunteer? A BRIDGES case may be right for you if:
You are interested in juvenile justice, mental health, or education advocacy
You would be willing to take a shorter, more fast-paced case
If you have experience with or are interested in working with Human Trafficking Survivors, you may be interested in a HOPE case
"I became a DC CASA Bridges volunteer in late October '20. While excited to be a CASA volunteer, I was nervous working with this particular population. I have to say that my experience thus far has been nothing but amazing. The young man that I am assigned to has been polite, respectful, and simply a pleasure to work with. This warms my heart, because it dispels the myth, that all youth who are court-involved are disrespectful."
- E. Tracey Willis
Juvenile Justice Basics Training Series
In order to be a CASA volunteer in the BRIDGES program, volunteers must complete 3 credits in the Juvenile Justice Basics Training Series before taking a BRIDGES case. Additional trainings are offered on a quarterly basis for continuing education credits. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
"CASA DC's BRIDGES Program Gives Spotlight Webinar at the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform"
In "Building Connections: Spotlight Webinar on CASA DC" BRIDGES Program Manager discusses multi-system collaborations and communications in the initial and continual development of the BRIDGES Program serving crossover youth. Jurisdictions, agencies, and organizations around the country can apply the impactful practices employed by CASA DC to build trust, make meaningful connections, and collaborate effectively with partners, advocates, and children.
A recording of the webinar can be accessed by clicking here
Senior Manager, Juvenile Justice and Education
BRIDGES Program Manager
To make a CASA youth referral, please click here
* * *