North Idaho CASA supports advocacy for young victims By Taylor Shillam
“Safety and security don’t just happen,” the North Idaho CASA’s website reads, quoting Nelson Mendela in a statement supporting children in living “a life free of violence and fear.”
That support is what drives North Idaho CASA: the need for child advocacy; being the voice of children who have suffered abuse.
North Idaho CASA, an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, supports trained advocates for over 300 victims of child abuse and neglect in North Idaho across Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone counties. Across Idaho, seven CASA/GAL programs recruit, train and support volunteers in advocating for children who have been impacted by entry into the child welfare system and who have been victims of neglect, abandonment or abuse.
“CASA advocates investigate child protection cases, represent the child's best interest in court, and help find them a safe home with a forever family,” according to their mission statement. “Our vision is that every child victim aged 0 to 18 in the five northern counties under the purview of the Child Protective Act is appointed a CASA, who will advocate for and represent the best interests of the child for the entirety of their child protection case.”
The organization has made a difference in the lives of children and families through its various projects, fundraising efforts, and programs, notably through the development of Project Permanency.
“Most people know that CASA helps children overcome the trauma they have experienced through abuse or neglect,” the organization shared. “Whether reunification with the biological family or adoption into a new family is the result, CASA also provides tools for healthy living to the whole family.”
Reunification is the process of reuniting families after children have been removed for their safety. Child welfare agencies report the process requires multifaceted strategies, family centered services, and an array of valuable resources.
Through Project Permanency, North Idaho CASA works to support family connections, aid in the process of releasing shame, and helps to build stable relationships. “We are rooting for successful reunification for all of our families,” they share.
The development of the Project Permanency program grew from a recognized need to provide basic household essentials for reunified families, including beds, kitchen appliances, vehicles, and more—essentials provided to instill a feeling of normalcy, family activities, and a safe space. Through Project Permanency, North Idaho CASA works to support family connections and more stable relationships.
“We have found, in most cases, the difference between the path to successful permanency or financial and emotional turmoil can be as simple as having a drivable car or a working washing machine,” the organization stated. Project Permanency also allows for partnerships with local businesses to fulfill the item requests for supported families.
Project Permanency has seen success—its funding has helped keep siblings suffering from situational trauma together with the purchase of a triple bunk bed, and aided foster children in regaining their health and making progress through difficult diagnoses such as failure to thrive and plagiocephaly.
These stories began with children in neglect and trauma, but through acts of kindness facilitated by Project Permanency, have evolved into stories of hope and resiliency. North Idaho CASA offers ample opportunity to support its cause: sponsoring a child, donating online, becoming a corporate partner, or becoming a SuperHero.
As one of North Idaho CASA’s fundraising programs, the SuperHero Society allows members to offer a monthly donation, starting at as little as $20 per month, to help ensure North Idaho CASA can serve every child rescued. No matter the size of the donation, no donation is too small, allowing anyone with any budget to become a SuperHero and provide the gift of security to the CASA advocates and child victims throughout North Idaho.
Those interested in supporting North Idaho CASA can also do so through their annual fundraising events.
“CASA’s two biggest fundraisers are happening this summer and fall,” shared Kristin Ludwig, director of development at North Idaho CASA. The CASA Classic is scheduled for Friday, August 5, at the Circling Raven Golf Club. Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin sponsorships are available, and team registration is open as of July 1.
Their annual fall fundraiser, CASA Uncorked, will take place at the Hagadone Event Center on Thursday, October 27, at 5pm.
Online registration and tickets for both events will be available at NorthIdahoCASA.org.