June is
National Reunification Month
By Judge Margaret Pickard

The goal of the Clark County, Nevada Department of Family Services is to provide a temporary safe haven for children whose parents or other caregivers are struggling with issues that prevent them from providing a safe and appropriate home for their children. June marks the celebration of National Reunification Month – a time to stop, reflect, and recognize the efforts of parents and other caregivers who overcome obstacles to achieve reunification with their children who have been in the child welfare system. 
Although it is commonly believed that children come into the child welfare system due to physical abuse by their parents, in most cases, children are taken into protective custody by the Department of Family Services due to domestic violence, parental mental health, and/or substance abuse issues, often leading to housing and/or food insecurity. Across the county, almost 400,000 children are currently in foster care. On average, more than 3,000 children are in foster care with the Clark County Department of Family Services (DFS) at any given time. The average time that a child who comes into foster care in Clark County, Nevada is 15 months, compared to the national average of 21 months. 
When a child is taken into protective custody with DFS, the Department provides parents a “Case Plan” to identify services that will help the parents address the reasons why the children came into care. Case Plans may require parents to engage in classes to address domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, parenting skills, and/or assist them in obtaining stable housing. In 2022, more than 1,342 children in the care of the Clark County Department of Family Services were reunited with their families; with sibling groups, this means that 767 families were reunited in 2022!
The primary permanency goal for children who come into care with DFS is reunification.[1] However, when necessary, DFS concurrently plans multiple other avenues to provide permanent safe and appropriate placements for children who are in care. This may include a guardianship, independent living, or adoption.

[1] However, DFS is not required to make reasonable efforts to reunify a child with his/her parents or other person(s) responsible for the child if the parent/caregiver has  (1) Committed, aided or abetted in the commission of, or attempted, conspired or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter; (2) Caused the abuse or neglect of the child, or of another child of the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, which resulted in substantial bodily harm to the abused or neglected child; (3) Caused the abuse or neglect of the child, a sibling of the child or another child in the household, and the abuse or neglect was so extreme or repetitious as to indicate that any plan to return the child to the home would result in an unacceptable risk to the health or welfare of the child; or (4) Abandoned the child for 60 or more days, and the identity of the parent of the child is unknown and cannot be ascertained through reasonable efforts. See NRS 432B.393 (3).
Thank you to Family Court Presiding Judge Gibson, Judge Pickard and Judge McConnell for attending the CASA Graduation on Thursday, June 15. Congratulations to twenty-four new CASA volunteers! They are now advocating for the best interest of 52 children in foster care.
Thank you to everyone for getting the word out about the importance of the CASA program for children in foster care. Our next CASA Training series is scheduled to begin next week!
Eighth Annual CASA Training & Recognition Retreat
The Eighth Annual CASA Training and Recognition Retreat was a huge success. We were honored to have Judge Margaret Pickard, Judge Stephanie Charter, Steve Grierson, Court Executive Officer for the Eighth Judicial District Court and Jane Saint, NV CASA Statewide Director, and more than 120 CASA volunteers come together for great food, fellowship, training and recognition.  
The CASA volunteers were showered with words of acknowledgement and appreciation for the selfless acts and unwavering commitment they provide as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Another highlight of the morning, was hearing from David Ambroz, a renowned author of 'A Place Called Home'. After David  shared his story and provided inspirational thoughts, he humbly welcomed questions.     
Special thanks goes to the Retreat Planning Committee and the CASA Program staff for coordinating such a spectacular event in less than two months. The CASA volunteers who walked away with many nice raffle prizes were also grateful to the generous donors, who provided the gift items. CASA volunteer (and newly crowned Mrs. Nevada), Tomi Lynn C. created and donated the centerpieces. This year’s event was hosted by Champions for CASA.  
Champions for CASA, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit and is the Auxiliary of the Eighth Judicial District Court’s CASA Program effective June 16, 2022.

Our Mission: Promote and support the work of the CASA Las Vegas program through recruitment, training, recognition of, and retention of CASA Las Vegas volunteers, so that every child in foster care in Clark County, NV can be represented.
Become a CASA Volunteer!

Are you interested in becoming a CASA volunteer? Maybe you know someone who would be a terrific child advocate. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers are assigned by the Judge to advocate for the best interest of a child in foster care. Free informational meetings are scheduled (virtually) four times every month.
CASA Program of the Eighth Judicial District Court | 702.455.CASA (2272)
601 North Pecos Road, Las Vegas, NV 89101