Our mission is to ensure every child who has experienced abuse or neglect has a caring, consistent adult to advocate for his or her well-being. This bold promise to give every one of America’s most vulnerable children a voice requires the passion, dedication and collaboration of a network of 938 CASA/GAL programs, community volunteers, government and judicial partners and our dedicated donors and philanthropic supporters.
We are pleased to report that 2016 marked an exceptional year for the National CASA Association and the entire CASA/GAL network. Through high-performing collaborations taking place in 49 states, nearly 87,000 volunteers served more than 280,000 children—that is a 13 percent increase in volunteers and a 12 percent jump in children served over the prior year.
Even as we celebrate the great strides we made in 2016 and the new children we served, we still have more work to do. Over the last five years, the number of children in foster care has risen 8 percent, a rise that public health officials, analyzing other data trends, increasingly attribute to the growing use of opioids. Sadly, we expect this number to continue to climb.
Meeting these growing needs requires momentum. We know the key to continued progress is adding more advocates who can help expand our service to children. That means recruiting new volunteers to serve more children, leaders who can provide strong governance to our member programs across the country and supporters who can advocate for policies that meet the needs of the children we serve.
National CASA is at the helm of this nationwide effort to recruit more advocates. In these pages you will see snapshots of our progress through the lens of the people who truly fuel our momentum to serve more children. These stories of our highly trained volunteer advocates, our dedicated and new donors and local program volunteers going the distance to contribute their voice, time and talents are truly inspiring.
We are also pleased to share with you a number of initiatives that served as catalysts for the exciting increase in children served and laid the groundwork for CASA/GAL program expansion. These include our work to strengthen the capacity of programs in key states, our focus on bringing our advocacy to new levels of effectiveness with our performance measurement initiative and the progress we made this past year to update our volunteer training curriculum.
Both of us consider it an honor to provide leadership to National CASA and serve the CASA/GAL network. We are very grateful for the role you play in moving more than a quarter-million young lives forward. We could not do this incredibly important work without the generous support of our donors and partners.
National CASA needs your support, collaboration, and engagement in our mission more than ever as we build on 2016’s momentum with continued drive, dedication and purpose.
Chief Executive Officer, National CASA Association
William "Bill" Collins
Board Chair, National CASA Association