A court-based program serving youth announced it will now operate as an independent nonprofit.
Wayne County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) announced its transition at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Monday, hoping it will allow the program to better serve neglected and abused children.
Patty Sabin, the President and CEO of Michigan CASA, says there are over 10,000 children in the foster care system in Michigan. About 2,800 of those kids live in Wayne County.
“2,711 reasons with faces, with hearts, with stories for transitioning to an operation that is not constrained by budget allocations and operation that can grow as large as it needs to be to meet the needs of Wayne County’s most vulnerable children,” Sabin said at the press conference.
She says so far, only about 100 kids have been helped due to limited funds and resources in Wayne County. She hopes the transition will allow the expansion of the program to provide more advocates for children in need.
Sabin says the nonprofit status will allow for fundraising and an increase in training volunteers. She says Michigan CASA provided $100,000 to Wayne County’s program this past year, and will provide $75,000 more to get the nonprofit on its feet.
Robyn Roberts is the Executive Director of Wayne County CASA. She says she’s looking for more people to step up as donors and volunteers.
“We know it’s best for children to live at home with their parents and their families, their primary caretakers, and so we will do everything that we can to help and support families and children. But our main priority is to keep children safe”
She says there are 35 active volunteers serving about 99 children in the system, with about 15-18 new volunteers who are undergoing training. Volunteers are sworn officers of the court who work from referrals to serve children from the abused and neglected docket in the Third Circuit Court juvenile family division.
Michigan State Representative Stephanie Young is a part of the Foster Care Task Force and the Child Welfare Improvement Task Force, where she heard about CASA’s work. She says the program will serve as a model for how other entities should move forward to serve children in need.
“Today is even more exciting because you hear that the number of children who will be able to be served is going to expand,” she said Monday. “The one thing we learned is the need so great. You guys are here offering up solutions.”
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