The volunteer-driven program that advocates for children in the court system will spin off at year end.
For nearly 40 years, YWCA Clark County has administered the Clark County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in partnership with Clark County Superior Court Administration. Serving over 700 children each year with the support of 130 volunteers and 11 staff, together we have advocated for the best interest of children in the care of the state due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.
In recent years, YWCA has supported the CASA program by elevating its own new branding. Additionally, the program’s strong relationship with the National CASA Association has included grant funds to support volunteer recruitment. This combined effort led to the recruitment of many new volunteers in the last year, which greatly enhanced our ability to serve children in need. Thanks to these measures, the CASA program is much stronger today.
Expenses to administer the CASA program have increased in recent years. The state and county have tried to increase funding, but due to budget shortfalls have been unable to adequately fund the program. To sustain the CASA program, YWCA has prioritized fundraising to fill the gap.
For the last few years, the YWCA Board of Directors has had ongoing conversations about what is best for the CASA program, its impact and its ability to serve the community. After serious consideration, and given the strength of the CASA Program, the YWCA Board of Directors has decided to not continue the administration of the CASA program after the expiration of the contract on December 31, 2021. YWCA is refocusing our resources to better serve our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.
“The CASA program has not only endured but thrived and grown under our organization’s careful and caring stewardship,” says Holly Jacobs, board president of YWCA Clark County. “CASA staff and volunteers continue to positively impact the lives of children in our community every day. The value of their ongoing child-focused work cannot be overstated. As a board, we are committed to a smooth and productive transition that effectively serves current and future CASA participants.”
Sheryl Thierry, director of the CASA Program, says the collaboration between CASA and YWCA Clark County has been instrumental in building the strong program we are today. “The CASA Program appreciates the long-standing support we have received from YWCA for nearly 40 years, and we look forward to the opportunities ahead.”
“CASA is an integral part of our dependency court system” says Judge Derek J. Vanderwood, Presiding Judge Clark County Superior Court. “It’s selfless volunteers build relationships with the children and families they serve, and provide the Court with invaluable information about how best to move a case forward. Superior Court looks forward to working with CASA to ensure the continuation of this program long into the future.”
As we look ahead, the next months and years are critical for our community. YWCA is committed to increasing mission-aligned collaborations, having tough conversations and working with our community to solve challenges and achieve financial sustainability for YWCA.