Northwest Rocky Mountain Court-Appointed Special Advocates
Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) recently formed an independent nonprofit organization to serve children throughout the 14th Judicial District. Prior to forming the nonprofit, Colorado CASA administered the program in Northwest Colorado.
“It is a big step to take on the responsibilities once performed for us by Colorado CASA,” said board President Kim Linin, from Grand County.
“Our goal is to build a locally-based organization to successfully meet the needs of victims of child abuse and neglect.”
The newly formed organization has a board of directors with representatives from Grand, Moffat and Routt counties. Executive Director Valerie McCarthy is located in Steamboat Springs. Each county has an outreach committee responsible for fundraising and educating the community about the program and child abuse and neglect.
CASA gives an abused and neglected child a voice in court. The organization works on the belief that every child has the right to grow up in a safe and permanent home. The organization trains volunteers to advocate for these children in the court system to assure the child’s voice is heard. CASA volunteers are assigned one case at a time by the judge. Having one case at a time allows the CASA volunteer to have the time and energy to devote to the child and to assure their best interests are being met. This is in contrast to paid professionals who are handling many cases at the same time. CASA’s role is to gather information from the child, professionals, parents and others and report to the judge. CASA volunteers work closely with guardian ad litems and social services. Once they are trained, CASA volunteers are assigned to a case by a judge. On average, cases last from 12-18 months.
“A CASA volunteer is a lifeline to a safer world for a child,” said Linin.
Children who are victims of child abuse and neglect learn to distrust people and the world around them. Many times a CASA volunteer is the only constant and positive influence in a child’s life. Research indicates a child who has a CASA is less likely to be re-abused, spends less time in foster care and is more likely to graduate from high school. CASA is accepting applications for volunteers to serve in Grand, Moffat and Routt counties. For more information, contact http://www.nwrmcasa.org or call 970-819-6233.
Experts from the Child Advocacy Center and the Colorado Department of Human Services note that 78 percent of cases referred to authorities are due to neglect, including malnutrition and emotional neglect.
To support Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA, each county is raising funds.
In Grand County, CASA and Winter Park Resort are presenting La Bella Notte, an Italian Affair at the Lodge at Sunspot on Saturday, Feb. 4. It is an evening of Italian food, wine and music. Reservations are required and individual tickets are $100 and $190 for two tickets. The event is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Attendees will ride the gondola up to Sunspot at 6 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Shanna Ganne at 970-531-6160 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The local community has been very supportive of the CASA program which has been essential in securing other funding sources,” said Executive Director Valerie McCarthy. “I cannot thank the community enough for their continued support to serve our youth. In the last three years we have tripled the number of children we have served.”
The organization will also apply for grants in its effort to be self-supporting. Grants and donations can be restricted by county or designated for a specific use. Funds that are not restricted will be used to serve children throughout the 14th Judicial District.
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