While making sure that victimized children in Clermont County receive the care they need isn’t an easy job, things did just get a little easier for CASA For Clermont Kids after a technology grant updated their aging computer system.
CASA, or court appointed special advocates, recently announced a $19,183 grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation to be used to purchase new computers and software that would help facilitate the advocacy of abused or neglected children.
“This helps us network within our office, it’s an amazing thing,” said CASA Executive Director Karey Ringland. “We’ve been able to purchase several computers for our staff and volunteers, and get state of the art programs. We’ve raised our level of compatibility with the computers our volunteers have at home. Our volunteers can’t work from their hard drives because of confidentiality issues, so they work from a floppy disk or jump drive. What was happening, our volunteers have computers that no longer use floppy disks, and the computers in our office couldn’t accommodate jump drives. The office needed updated equipment so they could do the work.”
CASA volunteers are often unable to do much work at the CASA office since they have full-time jobs elsewhere. Therefore, much of their work is completed at home during their time off in the evening. However, since newer computers have moved away from using traditional floppy disks for storage, the need to accommodate newer methods of data storage necessitated buying new equipment for the advocacy group.
“Now, we have amazing computers that are quick,” said Ringland. “The volunteers are happy because they can access their jump drives, which is another part of the grant. It’s much more friendly for us to use. Everything is absolutely updated. This makes a tremendous difference for communication with volunteers, which has improved greatly. At this point, everyone in the office has access to email, which we didn’t have before. The ability to have our own network is wonderful. This will, without doubt, help us streamline providing advocacy service to children.”
CASA performs advocacy work by helping children who are abused or neglected, or, in some cases, without a legal guardian and seeking someone to care for them. When children are thus introduced to the court system, a CASA volunteer is appointed to their case, and that volunteer then tries to see the child through to either reunification with family or adoption into a new family.
“When a child has been introduced into the court system for abuse, neglect or dependency, we are appointed by the court as officers of the court to provide the advocacy services,” said Ringland. “We make sure the child is receiving the services they need and that the right things are happening for the child. We remain on the case with the child until there is successful resolution.”
Ringland said that most cases that CASA deals with are either abuse or neglect, and most often in very young children. Some cases are also issues of dependency, i.e. if a child is suddenly left without a parent either through death or serious illness. In cases like that, CASA helps find a home for the child. In cases of neglect or abuse, CASA workers work for the child’s best interests until the parents either earn back their ability to have custody of the child or the child is adopted.
“Our statistics for the fiscal year of July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006, show that about 80 percent of our kids were adopted,” said Ringland. “We’re working day to day to make sure that things happen for the children. Most of our children are under age six.”
CASA is a nationwide organization with around 950 offices around the nation, with 35 in Ohio. The goal, said Ringland, is to get a CASA in every Ohio county. CASA relies heavily on grants, private donations and volunteer help to successfully complete their goal of protecting children. To learn more, go online at www.casaforclermontkids.org or call 735-SAFE.
“One funding source is through the Victims of Crime Grant,” said Ringland. “That’s federal money. There are grants through the courts, like Reclaim Ohio. We also get donations. We rely heavily on the community, and the Lykins company has been very generous for us, and we receive the proceeds of their annual golf outing, which is Sept. 14.”
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is a charitable organization that builds and preserves endowment funds, identifies opportunities to enhance the quality of community life and responds with grants addressing six key areas: arts and culture, community progress, education, the environment, health and human services. Formed in 1963, the GCF provides philanthropic leadership to eight counties in the Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky region.