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Grant helps CASA expand volunteer base

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Lafayette County (CASA) will now be able to bring on more volunteer advocates to help and serve the best interests of neglected and abused children.

The National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children awarded CASA a $30,000 Core Model Grant.

“We are thrilled to be a recipient of the Core Model Grant from the National CASA/GAL Association for Children,” said Erin Smith, Executive Director of CASA of Lafayette County. 

“We see the need for funding as the number of children in foster care [continues] to rise in Lafayette County, and this grant will allow us to continue to serve Oxford and Lafayette County’s most vulnerable youth.”

Funds from the grant will be used to recruit, train and assign new volunteers to mentor the children, help them connect with a community and family, improve emotional outcomes and reach stable placements.

“We currently have 41 volunteers,” said Smith “But this grant will allow us to take on more advocates who can help serve the kids. People who are passionate about children and helping them are the ones we want. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows but it’s worthwhile.”

Work done under the core model grant will target key populations such as American Indian/Alaskan native, rural, opioid-impacted youth.

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

There are nearly 950 CASA/GAL programs nationwide, including 49 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.

“We have seen an uptick in numbers of those who want to be volunteer advocates,” said Smith.

“The heartbeat of our organization are the volunteers and without them we can’t exist.”

To learn more about this organization, visit http://casaoflafayettecounty.com or watch this video, http://vimeo.com/382126682 .