CASA seeks 30 advocates for abused, neglected children

Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Tulare County receives $50,000 to recruit volunteers

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – A local nonprofit is hoping a recent grant will help find volunteers to advocate for children who have been neglected or abused. 

On Jan. 9, CASA of Tulare County announced it had been awarded a $50,000 Recruitment and Awareness grant from the National Court-Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children. Funds will be used to tailor a national public awareness campaign about child abuse and neglect for local markets, and to distribute the campaign. 

There are nearly 950 CASA/GAL programs nationwide, including 45 state offices, that recruit, train and support volunteers who advocate in court for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well informed decisions for each child.

National CASA/GAL has developed a broad-based national campaign, “Change a Child’s Story.” It is distinguished from other campaigns in that its messaging is told from the point of view of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The campaign shows the importance to these children of having a volunteer by their side to advocate for their best interests. 

In Tulare County, the campaign will run on social media; Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn on billboards, and radio stations and focus on reaching Hispanic residents and people living in disadvantaged communities.

Eric Johnson, executive director for CASA of Tulare, said the recruitment and awareness activities should result in at least 30 additional volunteer advocates and serve a minimum of 75 children. That would decrease the organization’s waitlist by more than a third.

“Currently we have over 200 children on the waitlist,” Johnson said. “This funding will help us bring awareness in communities traditionally not served throughout Tulare County.”

The “Change a Child’s Story” campaign was developed with R&R Partners, a cause-driven marketing and advocacy agency that has worked on prominent social issues campaigns. R&R Partners conducted focus groups across the country to ensure the campaign would resonate with target audiences while being sensitive to the perceptions of those with experience growing up in foster care.

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