In June, we shared news that CASA volunteers were protecting the rights of more abused and neglected children than ever before in our 23-year history. This trend continues — as a record 151 volunteers are now advocating for 317 children! With a new group of volunteers sworn in and starting to receive cases, the number of children waiting for a CASA volunteer has shrunk from 64 to 26 in just one month.
We can all agree that 26 children waiting are still too many. I am haunted by the stories of these children and youth. I think of one teen who recently came into the system after repeated sexual abuse and physical abuse. This young man’s mental health has rapidly deteriorated while his mother refuses to acknowledge his trauma and needs.
Unfortunately, this young man might not receive a CASA volunteer.
We face a new barrier to serving these remaining children — staff capacity. State law requires that CASA programs maintain one professional staff supervisor for every 30 CASA volunteers on cases. With five supervisors, Fairfax CASA is currently staffed to manage 150 volunteers on cases. We do not have the funds to hire a sixth supervisor who can support more volunteers. Like most nonprofit organizations, we are only partially supported by state and county grants; we must raise the remaining dollars to fulfill our mission to serve every child.
In these times of economic stress, the story of an under-resourced nonprofit organization is not necessarily compelling. But the real stories of children who cannot be served by a CASA volunteer are. When I think of the young teen, I know that a CASA volunteer would help ensure that his health and safety are stabilized and that he is able to heal — but today, we need additional staff to make that happen.
Please consider a financial contribution to Fairfax CASA this year so we may increase our program staff and supervise more CASA volunteers. If you currently support Fairfax CASA through a yearly financial contribution, an increase in your giving this year might make the difference for the young man who remains unserved.
Even one child waiting is too many.
Learn more about Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) by attending the next , Saturday, August 25, 11 am - Noon at the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna.