Read the entire 2022 Annual Report
As we entered a new era of advocating for children and families experiencing foster care, we were called upon with urgency. With the community providing a strong foundation, we were able to answer – but we know there is more progress to be made ahead.
In the midst of everyone’s efforts to withstand the unraveling consequences of COVID-19, our local CASA program experienced an unexpected decline in the number of children we were appointed to in FY2021-22. In addition, we had a small drop in the number of active volunteers as compared to the prior year. Bracing ourselves for surprises and challenges, however, was inevitable. The foster care system as a whole has been in crisis. A nationwide shortage of foster families. Multiple hardships related to the pandemic created complexities: fear of contracting the virus, job loss, and mental health crisis. Simultaneously, the pandemic caused court cases to stall and family reunifications became delayed as a result. With nowhere else to turn, children slept in hotel rooms or state office buildings or were shipped to placements out of state.
An overwhelmed foster care system gave way to overwhelmed children, in need of support as they grappled with prolonged emotions like loneliness, depression, anxiety, and grief. This is where we stepped in as Court Appointed Special Advocates ready to provide guidance, comfort, and familiarity. Trained advocates upheld children’s best interests and well-being by ensuring access to mental and physical health care, education, and community during their time in foster care. Volunteers recorded 646 hours advocating for medical needs and 661 hours advocating for the educational needs of their CASA children. We are extremely proud of what advocates accomplished for the children and are equally proud of our 72% volunteer retention rate during this tumultuous year – well above the national average.
What statistics fail to capture is the sigh of relief a CASA child gives when they realize they don’t have to carry their burdens on their own anymore or the smile that lights up a child’s face once their advocate shows them they’ll remain by their side through the ups and downs. That’s the investment you make with CASA. We hope you’ll continue to stand strong in our mission – to ensure every child in foster care has that exact moment of hope and relief.
Chief Executive Officer