The Honorable David Matlock was awarded CASA Judge of the Year for the State of Louisiana at the 17th Annual CASA “Together We Can” Conference this past week in Lafayette.
The basic criteria for this award is an individual who demonstrates excellent leadership and innovation in promoting CASA within the judicial community and to the public. The work of this individual results in the advancement of children’s issues by furthering consistent quality of representation of the fragile population of children whom they serve.
Judge Matlock serves as Caddo Parish Juvenile Court Judge, presiding over all CINC (Child in Need of Care) cases in Caddo Parish. Judge Matlock is passionate and dedicated in his actions to advance children’s issues. He seeks to understand the social dynamics of each family appearing before him, recognizing that generational trauma is often at the core of the systemic concerns involving children placed in the foster care system. Out of his concern for long term healing and a desire to break the “cycle of trauma”, Judge Matlock has provided a vital blueprint for addressing the needs of those children who often times languish in foster care. He dedicates time and energies in connecting the medical community, DCFS, Caddo Parish School District, and other stakeholders in the child welfare system whom he instinctively knows can change the trajectory of the children’s trauma story for generations to come.
The CASA program positively impacts the lives of children by training volunteers to look out for the child’s best interest. These specially trained volunteers serve as officers of the court and “friends” to children in need. These volunteer advocates, assigned by judges, speak on behalf of children who are placed in foster care due to abuse or neglect. As shown by an independent research, having a CASA volunteer dramatically affects permanency outcomes for children; as a result, these children are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care. Judge Matlock is very candid regarding his respect and value of CASA. His courtroom decisions are based in part on the expert reports and insight provided by the Court Appointed Special Advocate.