2022 has again been a challenging time in regards to children suffering in Kentucky. We continue to rank in the top five states for child abuse and neglect. Hardin County continues to see a surge in cases as well. In fact, for the entire year to date, our child wait list has averaged 96 kids on a wait list and we unfortunately do not see an end in sight! Note that as the system as a whole is overburdened, a Judge assigns a CASA to a child involved in the most worrisome cases; cases where the court needs an extra set of eyes and ears along with a strong, independent voice on the child’s behalf. There are too many changing people within the system who come and go, but a CASA is their one constant in a time of emotional turmoil.
Continuous program challenges require us to pivot and shift to meet all the ongoing demands. We continue to see a reduction in a few of our grants with some that continue to be reduced by 50% since the start of the pandemic. Through your support, whether you are a volunteer, donor, sponsor, or community partner, we have been able to do what we do each and every day. Amazingly, despite all of the challenges, we are pleased to share some of our key accomplishments for children in our county this year:
51 CASA volunteers supported, 525 child visits, and 1,250 volunteer hours, all focused to serve 125 vulnerable children here in Hardin County by December 31st.
Based on CASA volunteer recommendations, many children received critical physical and mental therapeutic services; while a total of 33 children went to permanent, safe and loving homes.
Besides our regular day-to-day critical advocacy, we were able to work with some key community partners to be able to distribute approximately 52 age-appropriate Lego sets, 32 backpacks, 37 cuddle kits, and 40 sketch pads and pencil sets which our volunteers find are items that help children relax with during their monthly meetings with them.
Melissa Torres, CASA volunteer, “With CASA you really do have the opportunity to make a huge impact…you actually have a say…you get to listen to them. You get to relay what they want and what they need and I’ve seen with my (CASA) kids actual change…”
As the new year approaches, we are preparing for continued rising inflation along with the continued surging numbers of abuse and neglect cases. However, with your support, there is always hope. If it is in your heart, please consider CASA of the Heartland for your tax-deductible end-of-year giving. We want to serve every child who needs us and your support helps us to do just that. Thank you again and best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.
Norma Hatfield, Former Executive Director