(Contest Nominee) CHILD ADVOCATES-DENVER CASA Gives a Voice to Neglected and Abused Children

Child Advocates – Denver CASA is one of seven nominated charities for Citywide Banks’ Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place from December 1-14, 2012. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to participate by voting on Facebook and spreading the word about these seven Colorado causes. The top charity will receive $5,000 and the public can enter to win 1 of 10 prizes.

Denver CASA - Citywide Banks ContestThe stories of neglected or abused children tug at our hearts and prompt us to give an extra hug to our own children or grandchildren. But for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers in Denver, they go beyond that emotion to take personal action to change the lives of victimized children.

Child Advocates – Denver CASA recruits and trains CASA volunteers to watch over these children while they are in the foster care system, waiting to be placed in a permanent home either with a family member or adoptive family.

“We provide an advocate who can speak up for them and fight for their best interests in court,” explains Development and Public Relations Manager Julie Wilson. “We want to make sure they are getting everything they need whether it is therapy or school supplies or tutoring … Through no fault of their own, these children have not been able to live in a safe, nurturing home that should be the birthright of every child. Children need to do more than simply survive. They need to thrive, in the safety and love of a permanent family where they can at last feel that they truly belong and where they can grow throughout childhood and into adulthood. A CASA volunteer can not only change the life of a child but also the life of that child’s children and generations to come.”

Wilson explains that even though each child in the Denver Juvenile Court System is assigned an attorney (called a Guardian Ad Litem) and a case worker, they are both handling numerous other cases. CASA volunteers are only assigned one case at a time. The CASA volunteer is often the only permanent person in the child’s life, dedicated to advocating for his or her best interest.

CASA volunteers focus on children of all ages. Each CASA volunteer goes through 30 hours of training, which includes classes on the medical and legal aspects of child abuse and neglect, child development and cultural diversity.  They are also required to spend an additional 10 hours doing court observation and reading articles.

After successfully completing the rigorous training, they are sworn in as “Officers of the Court” and will spend around 20 hours a month on their CASA duties, which include visiting the child at least twice a month, writing reports and recommendations to the court about the child and making contact with professionals involved in the case.

These volunteers, Wilson explains, are not your typical run-of-the-mill volunteers looking for something to do. “It’s a big time commitment and there is a big emotional factor, too. You feel connected to these children and it’s almost like you think of them as your own. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our agency.”

Unfortunately, CASA volunteers were only able handle about one third of the 1,100 children placed in the system last year.  There are over 700 children waiting for a CASA volunteer to advocate for them. And, the importance CASA volunteers play in these children’s lives cannot be stressed enough.

Studies show that children with a CASA volunteer do better in school, are more likely to find a permanent home, spend less time in foster care and have a lower recurrence of abuse.

But you don’t need a study to tell you that a child who’s been abused or neglected will benefit from a person dedicated to looking out for them while they’re waiting for a home.

A $5,000 donation would go toward recruiting, training and supervising more volunteers in 2013 so that Child Advocates – Denver CASA can work toward their goal of serving more children. “We hope to one day serve every child that comes through the Denver Juvenile Court system,” says Wilson.

For more information about Child Advocates – Denver CASA, and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.DenverCASA.org.

Vote to Give Child Advocates – Denver CASA a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned, Front Range focused bank, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with Child Advocates – Denver CASA. Through its Charity Hand-Up Contest, the bank is spotlighting the great work and ongoing needs of local charities Vote in Charity Hand-Up Contestaround metro Denver. Based on the results of a 14-day vote on Facebook, the community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win 1 of 10 prizes, including dinner for two at a couple of Denver’s top-rated restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here.

How to Cast Your Vote – December 1 -14, 2012
The voting will take place at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to make sure they are logged into their personal Facebook account. If a user doesn’t have an account, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook account and it’s free. The online voting form will only be accessible for Citywide Banks Facebook Fans. To become a Fan, simply click on the “Like” button on top of any of the pages on Citywide’s Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Then, click on the link for the ”Charity Contest” tab to access the online voting page. Each Facebook account will be permitted one vote during the 14-day voting period.

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