Put Kentucky’s children first, allocate money for CASA

CASA workers help advocate for the children in Kentucky who need it most, but the organization does not receive state funding.

Editorial Staff

Society says that kids come first and that we should “think of the children.” But Kentucky’s funding for Court Appointed Special Advocates in Kentucky contradicts this ideal.

According to its website, CASA “supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States can be safe, have a permanent home and (have) the opportunity to thrive.”

CASA is a great way to help children who need help the most, especially in Kentucky.

According to Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, “from 2010 through 2014, there was a 22.9 percent increase in the number of reports that met criteria for Investigation,” from 47,280 cases to 58,114 cases in Kentucky.

The increase of abuse towards Kentucky children is increasing; the statistics speak for themselves.  

“Currently CASA exists in 49 of our 50 states,” said Melynda Jamison, Executive Director of CASA of Lexington. “6of our 50 states have zero funding.”

CASA programs in Kentucky do not receive state funding, and they rely on local governments and private donors to continue to help children in need. Jamison said the average cost in Kentucky to give a child a CASA volunteer for an entire year is $650.

CASA is proven to work and save Kentucky money.

“A child that has a CASA volunteer, on average, spends 7.5 months less in foster care. It can cost up to $2,100 a month per child in foster care in Kentucky,” Jamison said. “So if you take a child and give them a CASA, they are going to spend 7.5 months less in foster care. That’s $15,750 per child of cost savings for the state, and that’s just for one child.”

If a CASA is not assigned to a child, there is no one else providing that direct service. 

“The attorney that is assigned to them is only required by state law to visit them one time. An average case runs two years. So you can imagine what that would be like,” Jamison said.

Out of the 120 counties in Kentucky, only 43 have the program, according to Jamison. “The entire eastern side of the state does not have any CASA program because we all have to fully raise all of the funds to keep our programs open,” Jamison said.

Our state budget should allot for the CASA program. States budget for what they believe is most important, and our commonwealth should prove that kids, especially those in bad situations, come first.

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