2016 Annual Report: Momentum

We're serving more children than ever before.

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Dear Friends,

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.

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Tara Perry

Chief Executive Officer, National CASA Association

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William "Bill" Collins

Board Chair, National CASA Association


Together, We Served More Children in 2016

In 2016, the number of children in foster care grew by 3.5 percent. Our network results show we kept pace with the growing need and then some, but more children need our help.





+13% increase since 2015




Children Served

+12% increase since 2015

6.2 million



More New



2015 | 22,115
2016 | 24,469

More New



2015 | 92,479
2016 | 118,477




2015 | 100,801
2016 | 105,147




2015 | 78.4%
2016 | 82%


National CASA thanks our programs at the state and local levels who made 2016 a year of extraordinary growth.



Growth Through Collaboration

Child welfare systems operate differently in every state, and CASA/GAL advocacy also varies, depending on state laws and trends. Because of this variance, National CASA’s 900 local member programs require tailored support from state CASA/GAL organizations whose leaders know the operating environment and can give on-the-ground support. National CASA is committed to building highly effective state CASA/GAL organizations in all 50 states, so every local program serving children can receive highly tailored assistance and support.


Working in partnership with our newly established State Leadership Council, National CASA defined the characteristics of a highly effective state organization. Using those criteria, we identified 17 states with the greatest opportunity to strengthen their existing state CASA/GAL organization or start a new one, and we launched our State Development Initiative.

National CASA realigned resources and granted nearly $1 million in funds to work in partnership with these 17 states. In 2016, National CASA helped start new state organizations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. With state development grants, we enabled other states, like Alabama and Kentucky, to build their governing boards, develop their infrastructure and position themselves to receive new federal, state and private funds. We supported the state organization in Illinois through a leadership transition and laid the groundwork to open state organizations in Massachusetts and South Dakota.

In addition to grant funds, National CASA offered intensive development assistance, convened peer-to-peer calls among developing state organizations to share ideas and offered customized support in operations, management, governance and marketing. Through an environment of collaboration among National CASA and state-based leadership, our member programs are scaling to address unmet need, bolster volunteer recruitment and retention and increase the number of children served across the country.


Growing Stronger in Alabama




Advancing Volunteer Training

In 2016, National CASA made important progress on refreshing the National CASA volunteer training curriculum used to train more than 24,000 new volunteers each year before they ever step into the courtroom. As the needs of children change, we are committed to revising and updating our curriculum to ensure the highest quality advocacy possible.

Our updated curriculum draws on research showing our volunteers can learn and retain more when they apply concepts to real-life scenarios and cases. The revised curriculum will empower and prepare volunteers with the latest research on trauma-informed care and child development.


To ensure the updates would succeed in continuously improving the quality of volunteer best-interest advocacy across the country, National CASA worked with a select number of programs in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming to pilot the revised curriculum and provide feedback.

National CASA staff members had the opportunity to pilot the revised curriculum, allowing our longest-serving and newest staff members to work through the cases and simulations that will prepare volunteers to advocate for children in court. National CASA’s diverse staff brought unique perspectives to the table. Some have a long history in the field of child welfare and brought critical subject matter expertise. Others had been foster parents or children in foster care themselves. Still others serve as current volunteers with their local CASA/GAL program and had been through a previous version of the training.

Through extensive input and review from a diverse groups of experts and practitioners, National CASA’s updated curriculum creates the potential for dramatic influence across courtrooms in the United States and in the lives of America’s most vulnerable children.


Collaborating on the Curriculum refresh



Measuring Our Impact

To increase the effectiveness of our advocacy on behalf of children, we are continually assessing our activities and interventions. What works best for children in foster care? In the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic and with human trafficking on the rise, what do children in today’s society need most under these difficult circumstances? How can we ensure the best outcomes possible?


National CASA is seeking to answer these questions and many more with our new Performance Measurement Initiative, officially launched in 2016.

Children in foster care are less likely to graduate from high school, more likely to be trafficked and will experience higher rates of incarceration and homelessness as they enter adulthood. This important and sweeping initiative will help us identify how National CASA, and its nationwide network, can help children avoid those poor outcomes.

Working with more than a quarter-million children nationwide, National CASA’s member network is uniquely qualified to identify which interventions work best for children before the courts or in foster care. We plan to share new evidence-based knowledge from the Performance Measurement Initiative with policymakers, judges and other child welfare professionals who can join us in ensuring better outcomes and brighter futures for America’s most vulnerable children.




"Now is the time to ensure we have a volunteer to speak with the conviction and compassion for every child who has suffered neglect, abuse or abandonment. Join us."

Tara Perry, Chief Executive Officer, National CASA Association