CASA of Jackson and Josephine counties (CASA) began in 1990 as a county-funded program to recruit and train volunteers who help abused and neglected foster children in court and the community. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) organizations began in King County, WA, in the 1970s as it became apparent that increasing numbers of juveniles were becoming lost in the court system. Juveniles who were in state care, either in foster care or a residential facility, depended upon their social worker to advocate for them. This system broke down under the increasing case load for state and private agency case workers.
A CASA is a is a trained and supervised volunteer, appointed by a judge to advocate for a foster child in the pursuit of a safe and permanent home. The volunteer provides an independent investigation of the child’s circumstances for the judge and makes recommendations to the judge in the child’s best interests. They strive to make sure the children are not re-abused. CASAs also ensure children receive needed services such as therapy, health care, and special education.
CASA of Jackson and Josephine had 241 volunteers during 2021. They worked with 681 children. Volunteers commit to a minimum of two-years as a CASA. This is incredibly important as it can take that long for a case to pass through the court system. The average retention rate for this CASA chapter is 44 months, more than twice the state rate.
Being a CASA is one case where the actions of a single person mean everything. One volunteer, trained and empowered, can ensure a child’s safety. These children, aged birth to 18, come into the child welfare system through no fault of their own but as victims of abuse or neglect. It’s heartbreaking to have these vulnerable cases roundabout us. Maintaining a strong volunteer base and recruiting to fill the need is crucial.
CASA came to the Ben B. Cheney Foundation asking for support of their Recruitment Training and Retention Project. It’s remarkable that this side of COVID, most of the loss in volunteers has been made up but unfortunately the need continues. As of October 2022, CASA had a waitlist of 232 children.
This project will go a long way in supporting CASAs with technology improvements, bringing beauty into workspaces and providing awareness of the organization via promotional images on the building. Knowing CASAs are often the only consistent person in an abused child’s life, the Foundation was pleased to support these efforts. Thank you, CASAs, for your loving, compassionate, sacrificial care of the little ones!
To learn more, visit jacksoncountycasa.org.