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CASA Granted $30K to Help Children, Fosters in Welfare System

CASA of Lafayette County has been awarded a $30,000 Core Model Grant 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 core model 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 49 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 core model 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.

“We are thrilled to be a recipient of the Core Model Grant from the National CASA/GAL Association for Children,” said Erin Smith, executive director of CASA of Lafayette County. “We see the need for funding as the number of children in foster care continues to rise in Lafayette County, and this grant will allow us to continue to serve Oxford and Lafayette County’s most vulnerable youth,”

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 2019, National CASA/GAL was awarded nearly $7 million in federal grants.

Pandemic Relief Available for Foster Youth

The Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services is distributing federal pandemic relief funds to teens in foster care and young adults who recently left foster care.

Mississippi’s $3.3 million share of the federal funds are available for those 14-26 years old. The money can be used to help with housing, education, transportation, utility bills, groceries and other emergency assistance needs.

Funds are also available for educational needs, like tuition and room and board.

The funds are part of a $400 million national appropriation in the “Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act,” approved by Congress earlier this year.

Youth may apply for federal money by calling their caseworker or visiting www.childwelfare.gov/youthpandemicsupport or https://www.mdcps.ms.gov/.

Staff report

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