CASA of Gila County has once again been awarded a three-year grant through the federal Victims of Crime Act managed through the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
This grant has provided an opportunity for the southern section of the county to be served by the CASA program, where children are being underserved.
Emily Nader has filled the role of CASA volunteer coordinator since May 2016. She has targeted her efforts on recruiting, screening, training, supervising and supporting volunteers who advocate in the best interest of those children who have been affected by child abuse and/or neglect.
Currently, there are only eight advocates from the Globe area serving 12 children, leaving 116 who do not have an advocate. Four advocates are serving five additional youth from the Payson area.
CASA of Southern Gila County needs to maintain and increase their volunteer base so more child abuse victims can be directly served.
Each year, millions of dollars are deposited into this fund from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalty fees and special assessments collected by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, U.S. Courts and the Bureau of Prisons. These dollars all come from offenders convicted of federal crimes.
Direct services to help crime victims achieve positive outcomes in the four basic need areas supported by VOCA: healing, safety, justice and economic re-stabilization.
A national study found that children with an advocate are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care; more likely to receive needed services; more likely to have their cases permanently closed, and never return to the child welfare system.
• Volunteers must be at least 21 years old.
• Volunteers go through a rigorous screening process including interviews, reference check, a fingerprint check, child welfare history check, and a polygraph exam.
• Volunteers are asked to make a commitment to one case until its conclusion, typically involving 15-20 hours per month.
• Volunteers must complete 30 hours of pre-service training.
• CASA volunteers build a 360-degree view of the child and his or her surroundings. To do this, they meet with teachers, counselors, physicians, care takers, etc.
• CASA volunteers work to ensure that children are in safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.