JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - CASA of the Second Judicial District was recognized Wednesday in Little Rock for their work.
The Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance acknowledged them as a High-Impact Nonprofit Organization.
Executive Director for CASA of the Second Judicial District Donna Lamb-Bowyer said she was proud of her staff and volunteers.
"This year with this award, it just cinches congratulations for our staff and volunteers," Bowyer said. "All the growth we have experienced in the last four years and our ability to serve more of the children abused and neglected in foster care."
Bowyer said the CASA office operating out of Jonesboro has doubled in size.
"We doubled the number of volunteers," Bowyer said. "We more than doubled our budget over the last three and a half years. And we're going to continue to grow because, although we're serving more than three hundred children now, there are five hundred more that need a CASA volunteer. We need two hundred more CASA volunteers to serve all the children that are in foster care in our district."
Bowyer said having the number of volunteers needed to match the children in need is their biggest challenge.
"The number one challenge we face is the number of children," Bowyer said. "It takes some time to get a volunteer trained. And as soon as we get more volunteers trained there seem to be more children in foster care. So, that's one challenge. Another challenge is we want the children to have the best experience possible while they're in foster care, but get out of foster care as quickly as possible. We want the parents to turn their lives around. So, in addition to helping the children and being a voice for them, we also want to help the parents and see if there is some way that we can help them get the first job they've had in a few years or get back in school. Helping them do whatever will help them be a productive adult and parent."
Bowyer said their volunteers are properly trained before they begin representing children.
"The volunteers go through rigorous training," Bowyer said. "They go through background checks. But their commitment is only 10 to 15 hours a month in order to work with these children and be a voice for them in court."
Bowyer said it's the community's support that makes their work possible.
"We can only do what the community will support," Bowyer said. "Because of National CASA standards, each staff member we have can only serve a maximum of thirty volunteers. So, that gives you an idea of when we have more volunteers we need more staff to go along with them."
CASA of the Second Judicial District is the second largest CASA location in the state of Arkansas.
There are more than eight hundred children in foster care in Clay, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi, and Poinsett Counties.
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