Walmart State Giving Foundation Awards $25,000 Grant to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties

Court Appointes Special Advocated (CASA) of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties recently received a grant for $25,000 from the Walmart State Giving Foundation to help provide Program Coordinators, training materials, and supplies.

Program Coordinators (PCs) supervise and guide CASA Volunteers. PCs have years of experience in the child welfare system and understand how to access resources available to children and families in crisis. PCs review case assignments, assist in developing case plans, review and submit reports to the Court, and attend all court hearings with CASA Volunteers. Each PC oversees up to 35 CASA Volunteers.  CASA Volunteers and CASA Program Coordinators together play a critical role in ensuring children involved in the court system are safe from further abuse and neglect, and that their best interests are held paramount by the court system. Volunteers and Coordinators help children navigate the maze of the child welfare and Family Court systems and work to find children safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible.  The grant will pay for personnel, training materials, and supplies.

Each year, hundreds of children are embroiled in the court systems of Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas due to abuse, neglect, and other mistreatment by parents and guardians. Court can be a confusing and frightening experience for many adults, and even more so for children. A child’s particular needs or circumstances are not always taken into full consideration by frequently overburdened court officials. Children are rarely effective in advocating for their own best interests, and don’t always know what information is relevant to the court. As such, these children are in dire need of an adult to advocate for their best interests in court.

In 2013, 993 children entered the court systems of Johnson and Wyandotte counties due to abuse, neglect, and other forms of maltreatment. Judges requested CASA advocates for 374 of these children, and CASA was able to provide advocates for 165 of those cases. All of these children are in need of a caring and stable adult presence to offer personal support and encouragement, and to serve as a dedicated advocate for the child’s best interests in court.

CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties (CASA) was established in 1985 to provide trained volunteers as advocates for children involved in the Johnson County District Court system. In 2005, the Wyandotte County District Court began allowing CASA Volunteers for children involved in their court system. For 28 years, CASA has recruited, screened, trained, and supervised community volunteers who advocate for the best interests of children involved in the court system due to abuse, neglect, custody, or visitation disputes.