People are always asking me what they can do to help CASA serve more children. We do have some of the most gifted and passionate friends that give, serve, and support many local non-profits. But I firmly believe that CASA provides one of the most compelling and needed services in our two counties. And because of that, I am always quick to reply with our three most basic and constant needs that will always help us support more children in the foster care system.
First and foremost is our need for more volunteer advocates. Every volunteer we can add allows us to serve at least one more child. It’s really that simple. The CASA advocacy system is built on one volunteer serving one case or child. Right now, in Bell and Coryell Counties there are more than 1,600 children in foster care and CASA currently serves about 350 of those kids. Bell and Coryell Counties continues to be one of the highest areas in the State of Texas with children in foster care. Until we can get 1,600+ volunteers to serve – the need is still there. Most people just assume that “someone else will do it”……..but if not YOU, then who? The need for volunteers never dwindles so I invite you to consider becoming an advocate for CASA.
Second on our list – and yet another constant need is funding for operations. I know there are many great organizations always asking for more money and support and we are no different. It’s not fair that kids are placed into a state-run care system and yet the ability to provide advocacy support to make sure they survive and thrive while in foster care is left to an agency that gets it’s support partially from the state and federal government….but, is also hugely dependent upon fundraised dollars, donations, and grants provided by the private sector.
Just two years ago our CASA budget was over 73% funded by state and federal grant funds. In our current fiscal year (FY23), our operational budget contains just over 60% state and federal funds. The good news is even with those cutbacks, we have managed to increase our overall budget by almost $75,000 thanks to increased giving from donations, special events, and new corporate grants. And while that sounds like great news, the reality of that means that our budget is 40% dependent upon money that has been given this year, but is not guaranteed for next year. Hard costs such as salaries, rent, training costs, and other necessities don’t go away if a funder decides not to donate next year. Thus, we are always seeking new sources of funds and support. If you can share your resources, please consider CASA. If you can put us in touch with an employer who provides community grants, local civic clubs that donate, or corporate foundations who invest in agencies that serve people in need, please contact us or refer us as often as possible.
And finally – creating more community awareness for CASA is a high priority. We have made a lot of progress in educating our communities about CASA – and yet, almost daily, I run into someone who asks, “what is CASA?”. In this day and age of social media, websites, and multi-media advertising – we need your help. We ask that you share our information in your social circles as often as possible. Like our Facebook posts and share them with your friends. Invite others to join our email list so they can stay up to date on events, trainings, and other news at CASA. We have the ability to share the most impactful stories about our advocates and the children we serve and hope you will pass these stories along within your social circles.
We have been incredibly blessed over the past year with an amazing staff that gives their time selflessly to support our volunteers and the kids in our cases. But until we have 1,600 volunteers and a bountiful budget surplus, we will always need more help. I hope you will consider doing just one thing today that will help us solve one of these needs. Like being an advocate, it’s not hard – it just requires a little time, energy, and willingness to be part of the solution.