Janesville69.7°

CASA overcomes tough financial year, moves ahead with community support

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
December 30, 2010
— Even though it lost nearly one-third of its funding June 30, Rock County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate program will survive, program director Wanda Diderich said.

CASA is not going away, she said, because people are willing to support it.


CASA volunteers act as a liaison between abused or neglected children who are under the care of child protective services and the judge overseeing the child’s case.


The local program launched in October 2005 and received a $162,000 grant from the National CASA Association to help keep it running through its first five years.


That grant expired in June.


“National funding is not to sustain a program or keep it going for the long term. Programs are to be essentially funded by their local communities,’’ Diderich said.


“We haven’t found any new sources of funding yet, but we’re looking at being able to go back to the National CASA Association early this spring for another grant from July to June,” she said.


“We’re hoping to be successful.”


To make expenses fit into a budget shrunk to about $85,000, the local CASA:


-- Used reserve funding from its parent organization, Family Services of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, to cover salaries for the last three month of 2010.


-- Moved into an office at the Rock County Courthouse, saving $180 in monthly rent.


-- Cut volunteer coordinator Kristi Baker’s weekly hours from 20 to 16.


-- Cut postage by moving to interdepartmental correspondence.


-- Acquired a donation to cover phone and Internet expenses for 2011.


-- Didn’t mailing Christmas cards.


-- Will send the annual meeting invitation by e-mail.


-- Cut staff training in 2010 and found a donation to cover staff training in 2011.


-- Won’t attend the CASA national conference in 2011.


Diderich said the local program is getting local support.


ECOLAB and the Stateline United Way increased funding slightly, and 2011 contributions from the Stateline Community Foundation, United Way of North Rock County and Wisconsin CASA Association will remain steady. The Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, which didn’t give CASA any money in 2010, will resume funding in 2011.


Even with the local support, 2011 is expected to be difficult, too.


“We’re not out of the woods, yet,’’ Diderich said.


Even as resources dwindle, CASA’s program continues to grow, she said.


Of the 50 kids served by CASA’s nearly two dozen volunteers last year, 25 were new cases, Diderich said.


That compares to 33 children served the previous year, she said.


“The program to date has served 116 kids,’’ Diderich said.


Although ongoing funding is always a concern, Diderich said she is grateful for the generosity of people who see value in CASA’s program.


“We appear to be stronger,’’ she said.


Diderich said the program needs to find corporate or individual sponsors to donate substantial dollars over consecutive years, which also would allow her to devote more time to support, recruit and train volunteers to serve more children.



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