With North Texas thawing out, the good news keeps rolling in. This time it’s from Dallas CASA.
Despite the state of the past year’s COVID-19 slam with all its social distancing, masks and virtual relationships, Dallas CASA “recruited the highest number of volunteers to advocate for children in foster care in our 40-year history.”
The number of new volunteers was a record-breaking 472 folks who were recruited, trained and sworn in to advocate for Dallas-are children in the foster care system.
According to Dallas CASA President/CEO Kathleen M. LaValle, “Dallas CASA has always been special because we serve in Dallas, a city of people who care deeply for each other. That citizens of Dallas would respond to a global pandemic with a surge of energy to serve the most vulnerable among us is truly a testament to our community and its priorities.”
To adapt to the new world of the pandemic, Dallas CASA “quickly and effectively transitioned the agency’s 30-hour, in-person training program to a robust, highly-interactive program that combined on-line learning with interactive Zoom sessions and one-on-one online interactions between staff and trainees. After completing training, volunteers were sworn in by judges during online court sessions and were then available to be appointed to Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.”
Among the new advocates were Dallas Mavericks /Dallas CASA Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect Cynt Marshall and Dallas CASA Board Member/Finance VP Janice Z. Davis, who has already been assigned her first case.
As Janice pointed out, “What drew me to Dallas CASA is the belief that our children deserve our very best. An investment in young people today is ultimately an investment in the future of our city. We want every child to dream big.”
And the new advocates are needed more than ever. From April 2020 to September 2020, child abuse reports soared above 50%. The Dallas County Child Welfare Board unfortunately reported that “the seriousness of reports and the severity of child injuries have increased since the onset of the pandemic.”
Last year, nearly 3,400 children were served by Dallas CASA and its 1,500 volunteer advocate.
While it’s great that the 2020 sign-ups were record breaking, the pandemic is still in place and additional CASA volunteers are still needed.
* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman **Photo credit: Kim Leeson *** Photo credit: Rosanne Lewis