The Grantee Spotlight for January (2020) is CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties.
CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000 in response to the need to improve the representation of abused and neglected children living in the two counties. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program recruits, screens, trains and supervises community volunteers who are independent lay advocates and appointed by judges to advocate for child abuse victims, birth to age 21, who were physically or sexually abused, who witnessed domestic violence, or who were severely neglected by their parents or guardians and are involved in the court system. CASA volunteers bridge the gap between the limits of the court and human services and the youth they all faithfully serve. An inherent benefit of the CASA Volunteer Program is its one-to-one model. One CASA volunteer is typically appointed to work with one child or sibling group and stays involved for the duration of the case. A CASA volunteer provides compassion, stability, and a voice when a youth’s world is turned upside down.
The success of CASA Programs depends on broad recruitment of quality CASA Volunteers. Recruitment of these volunteers continues to be the biggest impediment to serving drastically more children each year. The Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator has created a task force with members that represent faith-based communities, retired teachers, local homeowner associations, community colleges and higher education, businesses and corporations, public safety employees, the Hispanic community, and the LGBTQ+ community to help CASA reach those sectors. She is engaging current CASA volunteers and stakeholders to serve as booth staff at community events and a canvassing team that distributes posters and flyers throughout Adams and Broomfield Counties. Special effort is being made to reach out to and recruit Hispanic community members to better match the demographics of the children served by CASA. Finally, she works collaboratively with Programs across Metro Denver and around the state to share the CASA mission broadly and ultimately serve more child victims of abuse and neglect. Funds from Westminster Legacy Foundation are supporting these outreach and recruitment efforts as well as program costs to train and supervise new CASA volunteers.
It costs the CASA Program approximately $1,200 per child per year to provide CASA volunteers, which includes costs for community outreach, recruitment, screening, training, professional supervision and support of CASA volunteers. $3,500 from Westminster Legacy Foundation supports CASA volunteers for 3 youth.
The CASA Volunteer Program is the only one of its kind in the 17th Judicial District, providing victim advocacy services at no cost to the victims or their families, courts, social service agencies, municipalities, or taxpayers. CASA raises its entire operational budget each year and has a diverse support network made up of government entities, municipalities, community members, corporations and private foundations.
We’d like to share the following anecdote about the positive impact that a CASA volunteer was able to have:
Last summer, two infants were taken from their mother when she showed up to give birth intoxicated. The newborn suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and both children were put into a foster care. The CASA volunteer assigned to this case worked closely with both the foster parents and the mother, trying to be there as much as she could for the babies while also trying to support the mother as she pursued reunification with her children. The mother stepped up and worked hard to complete her treatment plan.
As the mother continued to progress in her treatment, the CASA volunteer took steps to connect the foster parents with the mother. She invited them all to the CASA Holiday party, which started a wonderful friendship between them. Through the CASA volunteer, the mom was able to keep close contact with the family and her children. She expressed how grateful she was that the foster parents were there to take care of her babies while she sought treatment. The mother has been sober for more than a year and her children have now returned home to her. The foster parents remain a great support for her too.
The newborn baby was found to have no lasting effects of the mother’s previous substance abuse and is a happy, healthy baby. The older infant has overcome separation anxiety and is also doing well. This case is expected to close soon. The CASA volunteer thinks her most important role as a CASA is to “show up and be consistent.” She hopes more people consider becoming a CASA, calling it a “wonderful, rewarding experience,” adding, “this is a role where you can make a difference, and you ARE an important part in making a case have a happy ending.”