CASA of Collin County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recently released its 2016 Annual Report, which displayed the progress CASA made over the last year. The CASA of Collin County annual report illustrates CASA served 100 percent of children in foster care in Collin County.

CASA of Collin County, a nonprofit organization, serves as an advocate for children who are victims of neglect and abuse in their home. After a child is pulled out of his or her home, Child Protective Service turns in an affidavit to the judge within 24 hours. Depending on the severity of each case and safety of the child, the judge makes a decision whether the child is safe to go back home or be in foster care. A CASA volunteer is then appointed as a guardian ad litem for the child within 24 hours of the hearing. Last year, 199 cases under CASA were closed. Of those, 46 percent of those children went back to one or both parents, while other children were either sent to a relative, adopted, or aged out over 18. Only 6 percent of those cases were closed at court hearing.

“It’s very difficult for a child to be removed from their home,” Executive Director of CASA of Collin County Susan Etheridge said. “Even though their home was bad for them, it’s difficult to leave what you know for strangers.”

CASA of Collin County is the largest organization for children’s advocates in the state of Texas. About 1,200 children were confirmed as victims of abuse and neglect in their homes. After hearing from the court, 510 children were served by the help of 262 CASA volunteer advocates, who help these children feel at home and safe while under CASA advocacy. The report states 92 new volunteers completed 30 hours of training and were sworn in by a District Court Judge.

Less than 1 percent of children served by CASA re-entered the child welfare system, the CASA of Collin County report says. Research shows that children with a CASA volunteer receive more services, move through the system more quickly, do better in school and are significantly less likely to re-enter the foster care system than a child without a CASA volunteer.

The number of children served served under CASA over the year has increased by 100. With that, the financial cost has also increased. The report states the annual expense for CASA was a total of $1,064,008, and finished with a revenue of $1,507,375.

Etheridge requested support of the community in order to continue serving 100 percent of the children in foster care within the county.

“I would like the community to know that it’s everybody’s responsibility to report if you believe a child is being abused or neglected,” Etheridge said. “You do not have to know for sure, you just have to suspect.”