Featured Grant Story: CASA of the South Plains
What is CASA of the South Plains?
The mission of CASA is to provide trained Volunteer Advocates to serve as independent voices in court for abused and neglected children in the South Plains area.
CASA’s trained and court appointed Volunteer Advocates monitor, report, and serve as advocates for children in the court system. The CASA volunteer is there to help pursue the child’s best interests, and to place the child in a safe and caring environment.
CASA works directly with children in foster care and addresses the issues of victim assistance, crime prevention, prevention of homelessness, and court advocacy. The South Plains region has one of the highest rates of abuse and neglect per capita in the state.
CASA has a multi-faceted approach to caring for children in the South Plains area. One such approach includes a need for technology at CASA in the form of laptops to be used by staff and Volunteer Advocates.
The Volunteer Advocates and staff at CASA require laptops to access email, case and donor databases, and maintain case documentation and research just to name a few things. Many tasks on these laptops directly impact their Volunteer Advocacy Program. With support from the Community Foundation of West Texas CASA was able to replace computers five years or older to ensure their staff and Volunteer Advocates can continue to work efficiently. Also purchased with funds were computers for newly hired staff members.
Volunteer Advocates are required to enter all case contacts and information into an online database on an ongoing basis. These laptops are available in the office for Volunteer Advocates to use if they require one-on-one assistance from staff. Obtaining these laptops has streamlined the data entry and case management process for many Volunteer Advocates who struggle with technology. Advocacy Coordinators may take these laptops with them to meet with Volunteer Advocates to work on court reports or case documentation outside of the office.
By having up-to-date laptops CASA can continue to provide high quality support to Volunteer Advocates, in turn providing high quality advocacy for children and youth in foster care. This technology has been instrumental in ensuring CASA can continue to work toward reaching their vision of providing a Volunteer Advocate to every child in foster care in the community.
In 2018, CASA of the South Plains served 628 children. Cases were successfully closed for 249 children in 2018. Of those children, 42% were reunified with their parent or guardian, 34% were adopted, 2% aged out of the system at age 18, and 22% had another outcome (such as custody given to a relative or non-relative) that resulted in them finding their safe, permanent home. In addition, CASA recruited 111 new Volunteer Advocates to the program in 2018.
CASA of the South Plains in Action
Jean is a Volunteer Advocate who has been working with CASA for 7 years and has had many cases.
She was having difficulty logging into her computer at home, making it hard for her to enter case notes, information, and contacts into the CASA online database. Jean was also unable to type up her court reports due to her computer difficulties.
During monthly meetings, Jean’s Advocacy Coordinator would take her laptop to Jean’s home and together they would log into the online database and enter Jean’s case contacts and notes. Jean keeps written notes on every case she works on as an attempt to make sure all of her information is accurate and can be entered in with her Advocacy Coordinator each month.
When Jean had upcoming court hearings for her case, her Advocacy Coordinator would again bring her laptop to meet with Jean. This allowed them to complete the court report together as Jean had all the information needed while her Advocacy Coordinator could help her type the court report.
Jean saw her children whose cases she was working every month. The children were placed in two difference relative homes, but the family members were very close to each other. The siblings were able to see each other many times throughout the week.
Jean had a great relationship with each relative placement and relatives were in a hurry to get the adoption finalized. Jean had constant contact with the necessary parties to make sure they were on target to get the children adopted. The children’s adoption was right on schedule and the case was closed with a successful relative adoption.