CASA of Lafayette County receives national grant

Published 11:07 am Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Court Appointed Special Advocate chapter of Lafayette County was awarded a $40,000 mentoring grant over a two-year period from the National CASA and Guardian ad Litem Association for Children.

The funds will be used to recruit, train and assign new volunteers to represent the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Work done under the mentoring grant will target key populations such as American Indian/Alaska Native, rural and opioid-impacted youth.

CASA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children through the appointment of court-appointed, screened, trained community volunteers.

“We were very excited to receive this grant from National CASA,” said Erin Smith, founding executive director of CASA of Lafayette County. “It will allow us to serve all of the children in Lafayette County that have been removed due to abuse and neglect. It will also help us recruit and train new volunteers to advocate for these children.”

There are nearly 950 CASA/GAL programs nationwide, including 48 state offices, supporting volunteers who work on behalf of children in the child welfare system. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decisions for each child.

The mentoring grant will enable Lafayette County’s chapter to focus on advocating for the needs of at-risk and underserved youth. Volunteers will also mentor youth and help them increase their level of connectivity with community and family. The volunteers will also help improve the youth’s educational outcomes and reach stable placements.

“We deal with a lot of children that are impacted by the opioid epidemic that is taking over many countries in our states,” Smith said. “This grant will help us advocate for those children that have been impacted by that as well.”

Federal grant funds distributed through National CASA/GAL are provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice, as authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990. Last year, National CASA/GAL was awarded nearly $10 million in federal grants.