We are so grateful to our friends at Pioneer Natural Resources, Goldman Sachs and AT&T for hosting the 21st annual Dallas CASA Classic. Through their remarkable efforts and their generous sponsors, you are together helping to ensure that children who have experienced abuse and neglect are safe, healthy and protected and have the very best opportunity to grow up in loving families where they can thrive.
More than 4,600 Dallas County children lived in the custody of the state last year because they weren’t safe in their homes. Amidst an overwhelmed child welfare system, judges often are frustrated when they don’t have enough information to make the best decisions for children who have been brought into protective care. CASA volunteers are trained and supervised to gather information that helps judges decide whether the child’s temporary placement is safe and appropriate, what educational, medical and therapeutic services each child needs, and whether returning home is a safe option. Acting as the eyes and the ears of the courts, CASA volunteers review records, conduct research on subjects ranging from available resources to potential relative placements, and talk to everyone involved in a child’s life.
With detailed, current knowledge of the children’s circumstances, our volunteers ultimately make recommendations that help judges decide where a child can grow up surrounded by love and support. And throughout this very difficult and frightening time, the children benefit emotionally from the steady presence of caring volunteers who have no agenda other than the child’s well-being. A CASA volunteer may be a child’s only lifeline, making all the difference in a young life marked early on by injury and trauma.
Knowing the impact a CASA volunteer makes, we cannot be satisfied until every child has an advocate to stand up and be their voice. Last year, we were proud to be able to serve three out of four vulnerable children in foster care and yet we are driven to meet the unmet need – that one child out of four who is left to navigate a complex child welfare system without an advocate. The cost to serve a child for a year is $2,000. Serving all the children means we need to increase levels of support to recruit and train many more volunteers and hire additional program staff to train and supervise the volunteers.
For 21 years, the Dallas CASA Classic and the growth of Dallas CASA have gone hand in hand. With the critical support of this extraordinary golf tournament, Dallas CASA has grown from serving 407 children annually 21 years ago to more than 3,100 last year. Nearly eight times more children are being helped compared to the first year of this enormously successful event. Every child has the right to be safe and you are giving so many at-risk children the chance to grow up in safe and loving homes.
Thank you for helping to improve the lives of thousands of children in our community who — through no fault of their own — have suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of those who should have been their fiercest protectors. We hope you are deeply proud of the contributions you are making to better the lives and brighten the future for so many of our precious children.
Kathleen M. LaValle
Executive Director and President