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CASA Receives National Grant to Help Vulnerable Youth

CASA of Lafayette County has been awarded a $40,000 Mentoring Grant over a two-year period from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem Association for Children.

Funds will be used to recruit, train and assign new volunteers to represent the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Work done under the mentoring grant will target key populations such as American Indian/Alaska Native, rural and opioid-impacted youth.

There are nearly 950 CASA/GAL programs nationwide, including 48 state offices, supporting volunteers who work on behalf of children in the child welfare system. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decisions for each child.

The mentoring grant will enable CASA of Lafayette County to focus on advocating for the needs of at-risk and underserved youth. Volunteers will also mentor youth, helping them increase their level of connectivity with community and family, improve educational outcomes and reach stable placements.

“The grant will allow us to serve all of the children in Lafayette County that have been removed due to abuse and neglect,” said Erin Smith, founding executive director of CASA of Lafayette County. “It will also help us recruit and train new volunteers to advocate for these children. We deal with a lot of children that are impacted by the opioid epidemic that is taking over many counties in our states, this grant will help us advocate for those children that have been impacted by that as well.”

The federal grant funds distributed through National CASA/GAL are provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice, as authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990.

In 2018, National CASA/GAL was awarded nearly $10 million in federal grants.

Staff report

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