CASA-Children Worth Saving Inc. in Dodge City recently received two grants, the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas Grant and the Arthur E. and Cornelia C. Scroggins Fund.


According to CASA Dodge City executive director Kristin Hines, the grants for 2020 totaled $5,000 and will be used for portions of personnel costs to train and support advocates, print the program newsletter, and support advocates driving to visit their CASA children at various foster care placements across the state.


The nonprofit organization serves the 16th Judicial District counties of Ford, Clark, Comanche, Gray, Kiowa and Meade.


"CASA volunteers are specially trained to provide best-interest advocacy services to children in court due to abuse or neglect in their homes," Hines said. "Summer Rhodes, our 2020 Volunteer of the Year, has driven over 10,000 miles to visit her CASA child. The expense to drive this many miles is significant, providing assistance is a simple way to help lower a barrier to current and future advocates volunteering."


The CASA program has always focused on finding out what is best for the children and providing information to the court, started in 1977 by Judge David Soukup.


The local program started in 1989 and is part of a statewide group that additionally belongs to the National CASA Association.


"The responsibility of CASA volunteers is to interact with the children, gather information about their situations, and advocate for them," Hines said. "Volunteers frequently work with children placed in foster care or out of home placement specifically, and because of the frequent moves typical of the foster care system, the volunteer is one constant in a child’s life, helping prevent the child from being lost in the system."


Kansas programs served 2,124 children with 906 volunteers in 2019.


Volunteers are certified after the completion of 30 hours of training and extensive screening and background checks.


The volunteers are then certified through the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration.


"Obviously, we need more volunteers to serve the rest of the children," Hines said. "We provide one-on-one support for the volunteers as they work with children, write court reports, and gather information."


To learn more about CASA, visit www.kansascasa.org, follow its Facebook page or call 620-225-1278.


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.