clarifying its belief that CASAs are fine as court aides, but they should never “supplant the efforts
of children’s attorneys.” 81
Both the second policy issue (calling for more funding) and the third issue (calling upon
the federal government to help the court system “minimize the further trauma to child victims”) 82
were written at a level of abstraction that renders them practically meaningless. What is startling
is that I have just set forth everything NACC had to say about the things it wanted changed or
improved in child welfare as of 2000. NACC was saying the most important change needed in
child welfare practice at the end of the 20th century was to provide all parties with a lawyer and
presented a strong reminder that the children are really the most important party in the case, and
they deserve actual lawyers, not merely a CASA.
If NACC’s Advocacy Guide in 2000 gave no hint of any deep unhappiness with the
trajectory of child welfare practice and policy in the United States, perhaps concerns could be
found elsewhere. Unfortunately, my review of NACC’s public statements throughout the first
thirty years failed to detect any such thing. In 2004, NACC announced its Five-Year Plan, meant
to cover NACC’s focus for the years 2005 through 2010.83 The plan revealed what NACC actually
cared about and what it did not. It also revealed just how much NACC was unwilling to ruffle
anyone’s feathers, something most lawyer-activist organizations in any other field commonly feel
the need to do. NACC’s Five-Year Plan was both extremely modest and filled with platitudes.
The Five-Year Plan set forth four principal missions. The first was to “strengthen the
delivery of legal services for children,” 84 to be accomplished by ensuring “that children are
provided with well resourced, high quality legal counsel when their welfare is at stake.” 85 The
second was to “enhance the quality of legal services affecting children,” to be furthered by
“establish[ing] standards of practice and provid[ing] training, education, and technical assistance
to promote specialized high quality legal services.” 86 The third was to “improve Courts and
Agencies Serving Children,” 87 by “promo[ting] systemic improvement in our child serving
agencies and court systems.” 88 The final mission was to “advance the Rights and Interests of
children,” 89 which NACC sought to accomplish by “promot[ing] law and policy that advance the
welfare of children.” 90
The Five-Year Plan also established “eight strategic goals” for the organization. These
1. Enhance NACC effectiveness through a large, stable, and diverse
2. Establish and maintain the practice of law for children as a full-time legal
82 Id. at 8.
83 Nat’l Ass’n of Counsel for Children, THE GUARDIAN 1, 1 (Fall 2004).