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We are excited to announce our 4th 2022 Fall Grant Recipient!

Thanks to our generous Legacy Giving Circle donor community, CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties is receiving a $25,000 grant towards increasing capacity to reach more children.

Initiative Description: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties is seeking essential funding for increasing the capacity of our organization. CASA’s mission is to provide a meaningful voice and connection that instills hope and builds resilience for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. We have a vision of creating a community where every child who has experienced abuse and neglect is given the opportunity to thrive. CASA was founded in 1985 through the Kansas City Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and the 10th Judicial District Court. CASA recruits, screens, trains, and provides on-going supervision and guidance to trained volunteers who are appointed by the District Court Judge to advocate for the best interests of children under the court’s protection due to abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Each year, thousands of “Children in Need of Care (CINC)” are brought under the courts protection due to abuse or neglect at the hands of a parent or caretaker. Each year, the Courts in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties oversee about 1,200 CINC cases. Sadly, child abuse and neglect numbers for the two counties combined account for 27% of the entire Kansas population of children who have experienced abuse and neglect, and Johnson County is one of the area’s fastest growing in numbers of CINC cases. The social service system is struggling to keep up with the increase in numbers of CINC cases. While social service caseworkers have this expertise, they are usually managing 40 to 60 cases at a time. Case workers adhere to extensive state child welfare requirements that limit their ability to visit each child regularly and have extensive information about their welfare. There are frequent changes in staff assignment and turnover in front-line workers. In addition, children average at least three moves while in foster care, moves which often result in disruptions in educational and mental health services.

A trained CASA volunteer is assigned to work one-on-one with the child and to gather objective information from all parties in the Childs life. Prior to court hearings, the CASA volunteer meets with the numerous professionals and caregivers involved and makes a written report to the court regarding actions in the best interest of the child. The CASA volunteer remains assigned until a permanent resolution and placement of the child is achieved.

Initiative Impact: CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties serves Children who range in age from birth to age 18, are residents of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties and are under the jurisdiction of the Johnson and Wyandotte County District Courts. The Judge issues a court order appointing CASA to a CINC or Domestic case, because of conflicting case information, concerns about the implementation of services, or for those involving extreme neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. The social service system is struggling to keep up with the increase in numbers of CINC cases.

The overall impact of this grant will be to significantly increase the capacity of our volunteer program. CASAJWC volunteers provide an average of 12,000 hours of advocacy time and travel an average of 6,000 miles each month. This advocacy includes talking directly to the child, the parents, and placements as well as the foster care agency involved, the Department of Children and Families, Guardians ad Litem, and often teachers, doctors, and other family members. This time that they serve also includes writing reports for the court and attending hearings and trials. This results in a value to the state of Kansas of over $345,840 each year (advocacy valued at $28.54 per hour; mileage valued at $0.56 per mile). Legacy’s support will help the organization increase capacity to serve more children.

CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties has three main measurable outcomes:

  1. Advocate for at least 415 children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
  2. During CASAJWC’s intervention, 95% of children who experience abuse and neglect will be safe from additional victimization
    as defined by a subsequent affirmed/substantiated report of additional abuse or neglect.
  3. 80% of children served will hold the same advocate over the course of the year.

Initiative Sustainability: To improve organizational sustainability and support ongoing expansion efforts, CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties is working to increase giving from existing sources as well as diversify new funding opportunities. As identified in our recent strategic planning process, specific strategies include the following:

  1. Individual giving: Revamped monthly giving program to include improved messaging and year-round communication plan. Increase communications with existing donors to communicate impact of giving as well as solicit additional/increased opportunities for giving. Begin to develop strategy for planned giving.
  2. Foundations: Trained Program Specialist to support grant writing efforts. Researched existing foundation partners to assess for fit. Developed strategy for increased asks from existing funders, as well as prioritization of needs for new funding opportunities. Developed communications plan for improved year-round communication with foundation partners.
  3. Corporate: Revamped corporate giving strategy using survey results from existing corporate partners. Included three-fold engagement approach to include financial support, volunteer opportunities and in-kind resources. Developed communications plan for improved year-round communication with corporate partners. Expectation for leveraging board relationships and connections.
  4. Special events: Evaluated ROI for existing special events. Included feedback from Fund Development and Marketing Committee on top level fundraising strategy. Prioritized special events that hit target markets (geographic and sector specific) to include three varied event opportunities. Reintroduction of event committees to support all fundraising activities, as well as board expectation for event support.