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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

CASA steps into independence

Sunday, April 17, 2011

(Photo)
CASA Works director Lynne Farrar celebrates the advocacy program's first year of independence and outlines a plan to do more to help the children in the judicial system.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
It has been a year since CASA Works left the umbrella of the Center for Family Development and became an independent entity.

And it's been a good year.

"Your investment has paid off," said Lynne Farrar, the executive director of the child advocacy program. "We had 125 children working with 30 volunteers who will log 8,000 hours."

Farrar was speaking at the second annual CASA Works banquet, held Wednesday at Fair Haven Baptist Church. The room was filed with those who have been touched by the program, which offers one-on-one help to children in the court system. There were representatives from the state CASA, from the Department of Children's Services, from foster and adoptive parents, and others as well.

"This is the most difficult work in the world," said Farrar. "And each one of these people put their hearts on the line."

CASA, or the Court Approved Special Advocate program, offers each child his own advocate -- a volunteer trained to observe, assist and speak up for that child. CASA serves children who have come to the attention of the juvenile court for abuse or neglect issues.

"The estimated cost of a child on foster care is $15,000 a month," said Farrar, who said that figure included the costs of special counseling, teachers, clothing, housing -- whatever was needed to help the child. "A CASA volunteer 'costs' about $100 a month."

Farrar said when a child is assigned a CASA volunteer, it can take as much as a month off of the time the child is in foster care.

"So for $100 a month, we can save $15,000," she said.

(Photo)
Josh Philpott entertained the diners at the CASA Works banquet at Fair Haven Baptist Church.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
Special recognition at the banquet was given to the volunteers, as well as to the individuals and businesses that have contributed donations, both monetary or in-kind.

"One hundred percent of our board members have contributed to this event personally," said Farrar. "That's not something you often see with a nonprofit like this one."

A video was shown featuring children telling stories of being helped by CASA.

"To give a child CASA is to give them a voice," said one girl. "To give them a voice is to give them hope."

Other speakers included Ray Knowis, the CASA Works board chairman; Morgan Rogers, team leader for DCS; and Dwayne Buford, an adoptive parent. Harold Segroves, a member of the CASA board, closed the banquet with a reminder that as far as CASA Works has come, there is still more to go.

"To fulfill 100 percent of the need, we will need three times the volunteers and three times the budget," he said. "That's what our goal is."

How to help

To donate to CASA Works, or to find out how to be a CASA volunteer, contact Lynne Farrar at www.casaworks.org or (931) 580-7377.