Gila County CASA receives Victims of Crime Act grant


CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Southern Gila County has again been awarded a three-year grant from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), managed through the Arizona Department of Public Safety. In an Oct. 13 press release announcing the award, CASA said funding from these grants has given them a chance to aid southern Gila County, where children are underserved.

This fund receives millions of dollars a year, deposited there from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalty fees and special assessments collected by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, U.S. Courts and Bureau of Prisons. The money comes from offenders convicted of federal crimes. 

Volunteers who advocate in the best interest of children affected by abuse and/or neglect are important in fulfilling CASA’s mission. CASA Volunteer Coordinator Emily Nader, who has filled that role since May 2016, directs her efforts to recruiting, screening, training, supervising and supporting those volunteers.

CASA of Southern Gila County is looking to add more advocates, increasing their volunteer base so more child abuse victims can be directly served. Direct services help victims achieve positive outcomes in four basic need areas VOCA supports; healing, safety, justice and economic re-stabilization.

Right now CASA has only eight advocates serving 12 children, leaving 116 children with no advocate.

According to the press release, a national study found that children with an advocate are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, more likely to receive needed services, more likely to have their cases permanently closed and never return to the child welfare system. 

CASA volunteers: Must be at least 21 years old. 

Go through a rigorous screening process including interviews, a reference check, a fingerprint check, a child welfare history check and a polygraph exam. 

Are asked to make a commitment to one case until its conclusion, typically involving 15-20 hours per month. 

Must complete 30 hours of pre-service training. 

Build a 360-degree view of the child and his/her surroundings. To do this, they meet with teachers, counselors, physicians, care takers, etc.

Work to ensure that children are in safe, permanent homes where they can thrive. 

To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer in Gila County, call 928-402-4427, email [email protected] or apply online at www.CASAofGilaCounty.org.

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