Originally Published: August 18, 2022
Southwest Iowa CASA awarded $12k grant by United Way of the Midlands
Southwest Iowa CASA, part of CASA of Iowa, has been awarded a $12,000 one-year grant by United Way of the Midlands.
Steffani Simbric, administrator of the Iowa Child Advocacy Board, thanked United Way for the grant. The Iowa Child Advocacy Board is an independent board established by Iowa code to set policies and procedures for the Court Appointed Special Advocate and Foster Care Review Boards volunteer child advocacy programs.
“We greatly appreciate the United Way’s support of CASA of Iowa’s mission to support and advocate for the best interests of Iowa children,” she said. “The United Way’s support will help ensure the CASA program is able to serve the maximum number of children from Pottawattamie County possible during their time in the child welfare system.”
The grant, which is renewable for a second year, will help fund a part-time office assistant position currently held by Jamie Watts, according to Anne Christensen, coordinator of Southwest Iowa CASA. This frees up Christensen to focus on recruitment and training of volunteers.
“We are serving more children than we’ve ever served — so that’s good,” she said. “We’re going in the right direction.”
Training for CASA volunteers is held four or five times a year in western Iowa, Christensen said. People interested in volunteering can also attend training in another part of the state, if they are willing to travel. Southwest Iowa CASA can coordinate with nine counties, but most cases — and volunteers — are in Pottawattamie County.
With the help of this grant, CASA of Iowa will continue to advocate for children, timely permanency in foster care, reestablishing healthy family connections when possible, as well as to provide a consistent presence in each child’s life during their time in the child welfare system. In 2021, CASA of Iowa volunteers served 3,195 abused or neglected children.
Last year in southwest Iowa, 35 active CASA volunteers were involved in 43 child welfare cases and served a total of 69 children, Christensen said. She would like to have a few more volunteers.
“We would love to have 40,” she said. “Forty is kind of my goal.”
Christensen plans to hold another training series in October. For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer, call Christensen at 712-328-4811.
CASA of Iowa serves children and families throughout Iowa by advocating for the safety and best interests of children in the child welfare system. Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteers collaborate with professionals to safely reunite families when safe and possible and work to ensure that each child’s needs are met during their time in the child welfare system. CASA of Iowa recently celebrated 35 years of serving Iowa children. For more information about CASA of Iowa, please visit childadvocacy.iowa.gov.