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CASA Celebrates 35 Years of Changing Children’s Lives

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) have been standing up for children in Arizona’s foster care system for 35 years. CASA of Arizona volunteers are everyday people who get to know the kids they are appointed to, talk with everyone involved in the case, and help judges identify the best outcome for the child. More than 25,000 children in Arizona have benefited from having a CASA volunteer on their side.

The CASA program began in Seattle, Washington, in 1977 when juvenile court judge David Soukup decided he needed an unbiased source to help guide him in juvenile cases. Pima County, Arizona started the second program in the nation in 1979 and CASA of Arizona was formed in October of 1985. The Arizona legislature passed a bill in 1991 that allowed CASA of Arizona to claim 30 percent of unclaimed lottery winnings. The funding mechanism allowed CASA of Arizona to open a CASA program in all of Arizona’s 15 counties.

“We’re proud of the growth CASA of Arizona has experienced over 35 years,” said Deidre Calcoate, program manager for CASA of Arizona. “We have such dedicated volunteers who are changing the lives of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. This is not easy work, but we know it is important work. In a system that is so overwhelmed, our volunteers provide an extra set of eyes and ears for juvenile judges who make life-changing decisions for children in out-of-home care.”

Children with a CASA volunteer are more likely to receive services, twice as likely to find a safe, permanent home, and half as likely to re-enter the foster care system. Unfortunately, only one in five children in foster care in Arizona get the support of a CASA volunteer.

There are nearly 1,200 CASA volunteers serving children in our state. During the 35th anniversary, CASA of Arizona is encouraging more people to get involved. FBN

By Felicia Bicknell

To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer in Coconino county, call us at 928-226-5420, email Nicole Snow at nsnow@courts.az.gov or visit our website at CASAofCoconinoCounty.org.

 

For more information about CASA of Arizona, visit CASAofArizona.org.

 

Felicia Bicknell is the CASA recruitment and training coordinator for Coconino County Juvenile Court.

 

 

 

 

 

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