Our Work

Who We Are

An instance of child abuse occurs in the United States every 10 seconds.  Four children die as a result of child abuse in this country daily.  Three of those children will be under the age of 4. Over 500,00 children are in foster care at any given time.

In our own area, the 32nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri which includes Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, and Perry counties, over 350 children are currently in foster care due to child abuse and neglect.  These children are innocent victims who need a voice in the system.  Each of these children will end up in court and a judge will decide their future.  A Voices for Children/CASA volunteer can speak on behalf of the child and provide the Court with additional information to allow them to make the most informed decision possible as to what is in the best interest of the child.  

Voices for Children/CASA volunteers are just that: voices for children who are in the system.  Their role is vital to the future of foster children in our community.  They investigate cases, facilitate the delivery of services to the child and family, advocate on behalf of the child to the Court, and monitor the progression of the case until it is resolved. Voices/CASA volunteers work with a team of professionals to expedite a safe, permanent placement for each child, and to ensure that the system fulfills its’ responsibilities to each child.

There are no easy answers, and each of these cases takes time and effort to work through the legal system.  With the assistance of a trained CASA volunteer, each child spends an average of a year less in the system.  Our program provides trained community volunteers who are willing to invest time to make a difference in a child’s life. The challenge we face is that we need more volunteers who are willing to advocate for a child, to serve as their voice and in return to receive a challenging, and rewarding opportunity to help a child to have a more promising future!

History of CASA of Southeast Missouri

In the Fall of 1991, due to concerns over the plight of abused and neglected children in our area, several concerned individuals met with the Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., Circuit Court Judge and Juvenile Court Judge of the 32nd Judicial Circuit for the purpose of soliciting the Court’s support for the development and implementation of a local CASA program.  A Board of Directors composed of nine individuals who had a long standing history of being involved in working with abused and neglected children and included, among others, representatives from the judiciary, local police department, Juvenile Office, local counseling providers, and the Department of Family Services.  Out of this effort, CASA of Southeast Missouri, Inc., was formed and began training volunteers in April of 1992.  

Five volunteers were sworn in on July 17, 1992.  At that time, staff consisted of an unpaid CASA volunteer supervisor and the budget was $5,000.  By the summer of 1993, CASA had eight trained volunteers and a part-time Volunteer Coordinator serving the children of Southeast Missouri.  CASA was incorporated in October 1991 and was awarded nonprofit (501 [c] [3]) status in July 1993. Since that time the CASA program has grown and in 2015 77 children were served by 33 volunteers.  

In 2016 the program has re-branded as Voices for Children/CASA to more effectively represent the role of the program to the community.  With the continued assistance of VOCA funding we have also added a second volunteer coordinator which will allow us to double both the number of advocates and the number of children we are able to serve.

History of the National CASA Association

The CASA program was established by family court Judge David Soukup in Washington state in 1977.  He realized that in an over-burdened system, he needed help in obtaining the information needed to make the most informed decisions as to the disposition of each case in the life of each child.  He knew that the children’s division caseworkers and the juvenile officers did not have sufficient time to devote to the cases to be able to provide that information, and felt that independent community volunteers who had the time to devote to each child were the most viable answer.  This led to the establishment of Court Appointed Special Advocates, an organization which provides trained community volunteers who investigate cases, facilitate the delivery of mandated services, advocate on behalf of the child to the Court, and monitor the cases until jurisdiction is terminated.  Today there are over 75,000 CASA programs in 49 states.

 
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