Through October 2013, CASA has advocated for the best interests of 362 children, and will reach 400 by the end of 2013. A total of 64 new child advocate volunteers completed the training curriculum, bringing the number of active advocates for abused and neglected children to 185 volunteers. Program outcomes continue to demonstrate that foster children with a CASA are 50% less likely to languish in foster care and 50% more likely to grow up in a safe, permanent home. A Teen Advocate Program, implemented in 2013, is designed to improve advocacy and support provided to older foster youth. CASA volunteers complete an additional 15 hour training curriculum focused on youth development and independent living skills. Program goals are for youth to improve their life skills and educational outcomes. The agency, along with Jackson County CASA, received the 2013 MARC Leadership Award for our collaboration on behalf of the community’s most vulnerable children. Goals for 2014 are to train 70 new volunteers and serve 435 children.
1) Volunteer advocates for children in foster. Must be 21 years of age or older, complete screening and 30-hour pre-service training. Approximately 10 volunteer hours per month. Trainings occur in spring, summer, and fall. Day and evening training times offered. Email Julie at email@example.com for information. 2) Friends of CASA allows you to support CASA by volunteering when and how often you choose. Select from a range of activities offered each month. Membership is $50 per year and includes a Friends of CASA shirt. Email Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. 3) Holiday gifts for CASA children. If you would like to adopt a CASA child or sibling group with clothes (sizes provided) or wish list items (requested items provided) contact Nina at email@example.com. Donations may also be made to the Children's Activitites fund. 4) We want foster children to have a special birthday celebration!! Provide birthday items for children in foster care. The birthday boxes may be filled with such things as streamers, napkins, paper plates, party hats, balloons, a birthday card, and gift cards for pizza and cake. Contact Nina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations directed to Children's Activities also accepted in lieu of birthday items.
I first became involved with CASA as a volunteer advocate and my experiences demonstrated to me the important role CASA plays in the lives of children. I also saw how the judge relied on information from my court reports to make decisions about the children’s futures. I was pleased to join the board and became board president in March 2009. The increase in abused and neglected children has also led to an increased demand for CASA services. While more individuals have stepped up to volunteer as advocates, we can serve only a limited number of new children as our staff are supervising the maximum number of volunteers (45). We are currently developing a strategic plan that will map our course for the next 3 years. The Board is focused on growing our revenue base so we can increase staff and more children will experience the benefits of CASA Volunteers. I encourage you to become involved – become a Hope Society member, join Friends of CASA, or become an advocate – our children need your help.
Abuse or neglect reports are tracked internally and investigation results are received from DCF personnel quarterly. Those investigations that DCF has substantiated abuse or neglect are noted. As CASAs generally visit children in their home of residence, they often see first-hand the caretaker-child relationship and note indicators of potential danger. Changes in volunteer assignments are tracked through the case database and reported by program staff on a monthly activity report. Outcome reports are generated quarterly and analyzed by management for trends. If problems arise, management reviews case procedures, training curriculum, and supervision techniques for potential causes. Children who case has been closed a minimum of 24 months are reviewed in the county’s juvenile court case information database. Children that have re-entered the court system due to a new abuse or neglect occurrence are noted. Annual outcome results are shared with Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.
During the last semester of eighth grade, I was placed into foster care. I was upset and angry with my life and kept asking, “why me?” Being in foster care was extremely hard. It seemed like all of a sudden I was surrounded by so many different people, from therapists to social workers. It freaked me out. My life became a flurry of therapy sessions, visits and court dates. I was stubborn and I just wanted everyone to leave me alone. But after a while I realized that as much as I didn’t like the situation, everyone was trying to help.
One of the people that became a part of my life was my CASA Volunteer, Columbus. When I met him I had my guard up. I didn’t trust him, and I’m pretty sure he knew it. It took him a while, but eventually I let him in, and he became the mentor and the friend that I so desperately needed. What amazed me the most was when I found out that Columbus was a volunteer. He chose to help me, he gave up a huge part of his life to be there for me. At the time, I couldn’t imagine how someone could be so selfless. He knew that I was scared of going to court, and he was always there so that I was never alone in the court room. He came to see how I was doing every week, and he even called my dad to make sure that he was doing okay too. Knowing that he did that for him made me feel better. I loved my dad, and it was nice to know that he was being taken care of too. My CASA decided that helping others who are in need is important to him. And I guarantee you all, that Columbus, as well as every other CASA makes a difference in each child’s life who are lucky enough to have an advocate. Sadly, there aren’t enough people like Columbus to go around, and only 1/3 of the children who enter the foster care system get to have an advocate. This program is extremely important to me. I believe wholeheartedly that having a CASA can change a child’s life. It certainly changed mine.
The ultimate success of the program is for children to experience a stable and supportive family environment. Prior to coming into the program, the parents were consistently involved in court proceedings for issues involving parenting time. During program intervention, the parents are encouraged to acquire skills to reach agreement without court involvement. To determine the program's success, court files of former families released from the program for at least 2 years are reviewed to determine those with new court filings. In 2013, 75% of families (43/57) did not return to the court for child-related issues. Instead, these families had developed communication strategies and skills to resolve their co-parenting disputes.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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