CASA for Douglas County, Nebraska
In Omaha, over 1,700 children, at any one time, are entangled in the foster care system because they are victims of abuse or neglect. Society has a fundamental obligation to ensure the basic rights and needs of every child are met. CASA volunteers are formidable forces that fight for these rights. There is no one else like a CASA volunteer who brings attention to a child’s need, both in and out of the courtroom.
Court Appointed Special Advocate programs provide an innovative, cost-effective approach to a very urgent crisis. CASA programs recruit, screen, train, and supervise CASA volunteers to provide individualized attention for these innocent victims and an independent source of information for the judge who must decide their future.
Vision Statement - A CASA Volunteer for every child
When home is no longer safe for a child, and the child must enter the foster care system, a judge may appoint a committed volunteer called a CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocate®. The volunteer’s focus is on that child, giving hope and help in guiding the child to a safe, permanent home.
CASA for Douglas County's Mission
CASA for Douglas County partners with the CASA community to be a voice for abused and neglected children through the power of volunteer advocacy and change in the child protection system.
A note from the Director...
As the Director of CASA for Douglas County, I had a hard time believing that there were over 1,700 children in our community are in the foster care system (Kids Count 2012). Your child and mine are attending school with children that are entangled in this system every day. How does this happen—not here—not in the “Good Life.” Many of these children have suffered abuse and/or neglect at the hands of trusted adults. Children may be removed from their homes and this is where CASA becomes involved. CASA for Douglas County’s mission is to be the “voice of the child” and advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children who fall under the jurisdiction of the Douglas County Juvenile Court and foster care system, through the use of screened, trained, and supervised citizen volunteers. We are a non-profit organization operating with a meager staff of six (6); however we boast a large, amazingly committed volunteer corps of more than 100 individuals from all walks of life. CASA Volunteers are not your everyday volunteer…..oh no, they must apply, interview, pass a background check, attend 30 hours of training and be sworn in by a juvenile court judge to begin their work.
CASA volunteers fill a critical service gap by conducting independent research and investigations about the child’s case, presenting fact-based reports with recommendations to the judge regarding placement and case plans to allow a child’s case to advance forward. CASA volunteers get to know the children by personally visiting them to ensure that their needs are met – physically, educationally, and psychologically — and that each child is receiving services that will allow him or her to thrive. As one CASA put it, “we are the wisdom of the community.”
CASA children, they are amazing too!
Gloryanna comes back to CASA a couple times a year to speak to incoming volunteers to tell them her story and how important their relationship is to a CASA child. She even won a trip to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro—she had never been on a plane before!
Joe (name changed to protect identity) was awarded a full-ride scholarship to UNO with the help of his CASA Volunteer who practiced the ACT test with him weekly.
Julie’s (name change to protect identity) CASA tutored her twice a week for 3-4 months taking her from 2 grade levels behind to a self-confident and successful student who now aspires to be on the Honor Roll.
Three children in the Jones family (name changed to protect identity) had already been adopted and the fourth child was still in foster care. Because of multiple placements and age differences, the children had never had a visit with all siblings present. During the holiday party, our CASA Volunteer made it possible for all of the children to be together for the first time-in the same room.
We know there are more great people who can advocate for these children. Is it you?
Kimberly Thomas, Executive Director CASA for Douglas County
Click here for a special thanks from CASA