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CASA Looking for a Few Good Advocates

Non-profit aims to provide advocacy for 100% of children in need
Jordan Smith, 2:57pm, Mon. Jan. 7, 2013

Since 1985, the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County has been training volunteers to advocate for the welfare of neglected and abused children involved in the court system. And if all goes well, CASA will soon make Austin's the first urban CASA program to provide representation for 100% of kids in need.

CASA of Travis County started 28 years ago with the goal of training adults to provide support and advocacy for children involved in abuse and neglect cases. CASA volunteers, in part, are tasked with making recommendations to district judges about how a child protection action should be resolvedĀ – should a child be removed from her home? Should she be returned?

Roughly a decade ago, CASA was providing support to 50% of the children coming into the Travis County system. Since then the number of children who are the subjects of court proceedings has grown significantly, and since 2009 alone the number of children represented by CASA volunteers has increased by nearly 36%, from 1,106 children to an estimated 1,500 in 2012. As the number of children in need has increased, CASA's participation has been fairly steady, with representation available for approximately 80% of children.

Now, however, CASA of Travis County is determined to push past that 80% mark – a move that would make Austin's CASA the first urban program of its kind in the nation to cover every child in need. Indeed, San Francisco, with roughly 1,200 children in need serves just 27%; in Chicago, just 10% of the approximately 6,500 children in need are served, according to numbers provided by CASA of Travis County.

As such, the non-profit this week is beginning a volunteer recruitment push with the goal of taking the program to the top. CASA is hosting an open house for potential volunteers tomorrow, Jan. 8, at their offices at 7701 North Lamar Boulevard, Suit 301. Find more information here.

Find more about CASA, and the work that CASA volunteers do, here.

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