One of the largest CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) programs in the nation, Jackson County CASA is doubling in size to allow the nonprofit to add services and help more children removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect. The $3.7 million “Space to Thrive” expansion will allow the nonprofit to set a goal of serving 1,500 children – 250 more — a year by 2023. Jackson County CASA plans to continue to add more volunteers and serve even more children in the future.
This year, Jackson County CASA volunteers will advocate for 1,250 children removed from their homes for their safety. That’s only about half the children under court protection in the county.
Unable to serve more children because they literally ran out of space to grow in the 100+ year-old-house that serves as their offices, Jackson County CASA has purchased the house-turned-commercial-building next door and will combine them into a renovated 10,700 square foot space scheduled to be ready in summer 2022.
“Jackson County CASA’s expansion is bittersweet,” says Angie Blumel, President and CEO of the nonprofit. “We all wish that child abuse or neglect were eradicated and are working towards a day when this is possible. Until then, more than 350 active Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers and staff work hard every day to advocate on behalf of the best interests of children experiencing abuse or neglect. CASA volunteers are often the single constant in a child’s life providing critical information to judges. We must expand in order to serve more kids who need us. Space to Thrive is an opportunity for CASA and the community to see all kids do well and have a safe, healthy, and happy childhood.”
Children who have a CASA volunteer are far less likely to be re-abused and far more likely to find a safe permanent home. They typically spend less time in foster care, have fewer changes in placements and do better in school.
With Space to Thrive, Jackson County CASA will be able to add volunteers and the professional staff to support them.
Jackson County CASA’s current quarters in a 5,000 square foot historic house at 2544 Holmes will be combined with the 4,000 square foot house-turned-commercial-space next door at 2546 Holmes. A 1,700 square foot addition will combine the two spaces. The result will be 10,700 square feet of new and renovated space that will allow Jackson County CASA to expand services and help more children.
Located directly across from Jackson County Family Court, the space will be constructed and renovated with an emphasis on creating welcoming, child-friendly, accessible, energy efficient facilities.
The side of the building facing Family Court will be covered with a colorful mural with positive messages for children, such as that they are brave and strong. The exterior also will feature a canopied ramp accessible from both the front and side.
The renovated interior will provide vital training and meeting space including a location where parents conferring with their children’s CASA volunteer and professional staff members will be able to have private conversations while the children safely play nearby in a new sun-filled child-friendly waiting space.
A new dedicated space for older youth will provide access to computers, classes to help them prepare for leading successful independent lives, laundry facilities for their use, and even a shower.
Dedicated spaces will be available where Jackson County CASA volunteers can meet, train, and find expanded resources.
CASA volunteers – with on-going support from professional staff — provide information to judges, helping them make the best possible decisions regarding where the children should live and what medical, therapeutic, and educational services they need. While each case is different, a CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 flexible hours a month meeting with the child, speaking with others involved, and attending meetings or court hearings.
More CASA volunteers are always needed. There is no need for any special skills or education – just a heart for helping children, a background check, and training.
While generous donors have launched the Space to Thrive fundraising campaign, Jackson County CASA is now looking to the community to help it raise the remainder of the funds needed to reach its $3.7 million goal.
Space to Thrive donors of $100,000 and above include the Sunderland Foundation, The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, The Hall Family Foundation, Kathy and Gary Bussing, William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank Trustee, The Marion and Henry Bloch Foundation, Patty and Don Kincaid, and The Dickinson Family Foundation.
Space to Thrive Honorary Co Honorary Co-Chairs are Leigh and Tyler Nottberg. The Campaign Chairs are Kathy and Gary Bussing.
The Space to Thrive Capital Campaign Committee members include Zach Bickel, Rebecca David, Sandi Fried, Martha Gershun, Don Kirkpatrick, Katie Lord, Mira Mdivani, Twynette Neer,Vanessa Sims and John Vaglio.
For more information about donating or volunteering, visit www.jacksoncountycasa-mo.org or call Jackson County CASA at 816-984-8204.