CASA CONNECTOR
Fall 2020
CASA ADVOCACY & SUPPORT ACROSS GEORGIA CONTINUES DURING PANDEMIC
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic when our families and communities are physically distanced, CASA advocacy has continued. CASA volunteers remain connected and accessible to children, caregivers, parents, case managers and the courts. They have been addressing immediate needs and bringing urgency to critical concerns via virtual and physically-distanced visits, phone calls, and written communications; ensuring children have regular and immediate contact, encouragement, and hope; and providing a consistent, reassuring presence that’s even more critical during uncertain times.

Georgia CASA has been harnessing resources to support our statewide CASA network of affiliates and continue our role as an influential leader in the child welfare system.

We understand the critical role our CASA advocates play in prevention and family support is more critical than ever, and we will continue to bring immediate attention to the needs of children and their caregivers during the public health emergency and moving forward.

You can help in several ways, particularly during this time:
  • Consider a donation.
  • Ask your social network to donate through a Facebook Fundraiser.
  • Volunteer! Children involved in foster care need CASA volunteers to advocate for their best interests. Many CASA programs in Georgia offer virtual trainings.

Be sure to check out our COVID-19 response web page as well as this short video illustrating the powerful work of CASA advocates throughout our state during the pandemic!
RECRUITMENT MAP ILLUSTRATES NEED FOR CASA VOLUNTEERS IN GEORGIA
We are excited to roll-out our Recruitment Map in partnership with Neighborhood Nexus! The map is a great tool that illustrates the need for CASA volunteers by each CASA affiliate in the state. Check it out to find how many CASA volunteers are needed in your community, and help us recruit more volunteers to serve more children in foster care!

Features of the map (searchable statewide and by particular places) include the following:
  • Number of children in foster care (as of June 30th
  • Percentage of children in foster care currently without a CASA volunteer
  • Number of CASA volunteers currently serving in each community
  • Contact information for each CASA affiliate
FORMER FOSTER YOUTH CARA COLE HERDEE OF JEFFERSON, GEORGIA, FEATURED IN
DAILY POINT OF LIGHT
Sourced from Daily Point of Light Award from Points of Light, September 14, 2020

When Cara Cole Herdee was only three years old, she and her brother entered foster care in Georgia after being neglected. They had been left with no food, drink, or even toothbrushes, resulting in her needing 12 root canals. By the time she entered her seventh foster home at the age of six, she was still unable to talk. Thankfully, that seventh home would prove to be her last, as her then-foster mother adopted her and her brother when she was eight.

Now at age 15, Cara is helping other foster children through the #3SProject she created. 3S represents stand up, show love, and shine bright.

She works with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to enter photographs of foster children into the Georgia SHINES System, an online database of information for all foster children within the state. Cara never had any baby pictures of herself, so for other foster children, she wants to make sure that they have pictures of their life as they are growing up.

To show love, she does volunteer work and makes and takes meals to foster families through Piedmont CASA. To shine bright, she uses social media to encourage other people to step up, show up, and shine bright for foster children, including promoting businesses and companies that are doing good things for foster children.

Cara is an amazing youth who is making a difference in her home community of Jefferson, Georgia. She strongly believes that everyone can help in some way with foster families and foster children. She is an inspiration to us all and we are grateful for her service to children and foster families!

A VERY SPECIAL THANKSGIVING...AT THE TROUP COUNTY JAIL
Judge R. Michael Key, Troup County Juvenile Court
Imagine you are a nine-year old little girl who, along with your three-year old brother, are removed from your home because your mom is arrested on drug charges. Although you are placed with a loving, caring family, they are still strangers to you. You constantly worry about what will happen to you, how long will you be there, and what is happening to your mom and whether she is ok. You wonder if you will ever see her again.

There are laws and policies that say you have a right to see your mom within a week after you are separated, which seems like forever to you, that you get to see her at least every other week, and that your little brother can see her at least once a week. However, the days, weeks, and months pass and you never get to see your mom; and this is at a time when you need her more than ever. When you ask why you cannot see your mom, you are either lied to and told that your mom is on a trip, but you know she would never go on a trip and not take you and your brother, or you are told the truth, which is your mom is in jail and that visits are not allowed. Even if visits are allowed, they take place through video conferencing where you are allowed to see, but not touch your mom, a circumstance the new adults in your life decide will be more confusing and harmful for you than not seeing your mom at all. So, you wait and you wonder. Your heart hurts, deeply. Fortunately, in Troup County, Georgia, the hearts of the adults in the community also hurt for you, and they care enough to say, “Not our children. Not on our watch.” And they give legs to the words spoken often by Dr. Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, “We are better than that. We can do better than that. We must do better than that.” 
           
Thanks to the collective and inspired efforts of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, the Juvenile Court, the Department of Family and Children Services, West Georgia Counseling and Assessment, Inc., Georgia’s Court Appointed Special Advocates, and others, as of November 26, 2019, children in foster care are able to spend real family time with their parents who are incarcerated. Continue reading...
GEORGIA CASA'S NEW LONG RANGE PLAN IS COMING
Small GaCASA Logo
Look for the unveiling of our newly adopted mission, vision, values, strategic priority areas, and a challenge goal for the end of 2022. A special thank you to all of our Long Range Planning committee members, key stakeholders, board leadership, and consulting team for their dedication to the process and our future success.
GEORGIA CASA IMPACT REPORT
Please take a few moments to view our Impact Report, covering our work between July 2019 and June 2020. Over the past year, nearly 3,000 dedicated CASA volunteers provided best-interest advocacy for over 10,000 children in Georgia who have experienced abuse or neglect. Thank you for your support of the CASA organization in Georgia and your commitment to the children we serve!

THANK YOU TO THESE RECENTLY RETIRED JUVENILE COURT JUDGES FOR THEIR SERVICE AND COMMITMENT TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Georgia CASA sends best wishes to the following juvenile court judges who recently retired. While serving on the bench, they were strong supporters of the CASA advocacy in their judicial circuits. We are thankful for all they have done for children and families.
Judge Robin Shearer – Western Judicial Circuit (Athens)
Judge Steve Andrews – Southern Judicial Circuit (Thomasville)
Judge Philip Spivey – Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit (Milledgeville)


THANK YOU, DONORS!
Thank you to our donors who supported the work of Georgia CASA for Summer 2020. Because of your investment, more children were provided with a CASA volunteer to amplify their voices. We truly appreciate your investment in children!


If you are not yet part of our donor group, you can give online here! Please consider becoming a Georgia CASA donor or give your next gift as a repeat donor. You can make a difference with a gift of any amount - and a recurring gift is an easy and convenient way to give! Your support is critical and much appreciated as CASA volunteers continue to serve children and 'keep their eyes on them' even more during these challenging times of COVID-19.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
February 11, 2021: CASA Day at the Capitol (virtual)
February 23 - 24, 2021: Georgia Conference on Children & Families (virtual)

Video About Becoming a CASA Volunteer in Georgia

Interested in joining us to support CASA in Georgia?

Check out these easy ways to support Georgia CASA. Our Kroger Community Rewards number is IY574 or search by our full name - Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Georgia CASA | 404-874-2888 | 800-251-4012 | gacasa.org

Member of The National CASA/GAL Association for Children