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May is National Foster Care month. It is a time recognizes the important role that people from all parts of child welfare play in supporting children, youth, and families.

* There are over 390,000 children and youth in foster care.
* Approximately 20,000 youth are emancipated from foster care without a permanent family.
* In 2021, 77 percent of eligible youth in foster care, ages 14–21 years old, left care without receiving the federally funded services necessary to prepare them for adulthood and independent living.
* Between one-quarter and one-third of youth and young adults experiencing homeless had a history of foster care.
* Relational permanency is fundamental to the well-being of children and youth in foster care. Stable, nurturing placements have positive impacts on children and youth’s resilience and longterm well-being.

[source: www.childwelfare.gov]

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

National Child Abuse Statistics

  • Over 408,000 children in the U.S. experience abuse or neglect annually, leading them into the foster care and dependency court systems.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, over 3 million cases of child maltreatment are reported each year, with 558,899 substantiated in 2022.
  • Foster children often endure multiple home changes and school transfers, which can have long-term effects.

Alarming Figures

  • At least one in seven children experience abuse or neglect each year. In 2020, 1,750 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States.
  • Child maltreatment is costly. In the United States, the total lifetime economic burden associated with child abuse and neglect was about $592 billion in 2018. This economic burden rivals the cost of other high-profile public health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Vulnerable Demographics

  • Infants face the highest rate of victimization, with children of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds at risk.
  • Children living in poverty are reported to experience more abuse and neglect. Experiencing poverty can place a lot of stress on families, which may increase the risk of child abuse and neglect. Rates of child abuse and neglect are 5 times higher for children in families with low socioeconomic status. It is important not to mistake poverty for neglect

The Role of CASA

Empowering Advocacy

  • Nebraska CASA Association provides trained volunteers to advocate for children in court, making informed decisions for their well-being.

Strengthening Families

  • CASA volunteers offer consistent support, helping judges make informed decisions and connecting families with vital resources.

Addressing Root Causes of Child Abuse

Tackling Poverty

  • Poverty, combined with other risk factors like substance use and social isolation, increases the likelihood of maltreatment.

Providing Essential Support

  • Access to economic support services is crucial for families, reducing child welfare interactions and promoting stability.

Making a Difference

Positive Outcomes

  • In 2020, 42% of CASA cases were closed due to reunification, with less than half re-entering foster care after exiting with a positive permanency outcome.

Join the Cause

Nebraska CASA Association advocates for every child to have a safe and nurturing permanent home.

Volunteer or donate today to support abused and neglected children.

Wear Blue on April 5th for Child Abuse Prevention Month!

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, the Columbus United Way and the Child Abuse Prevention Council [CAPC] is asking for anyone/everyone to Wear Blue on Friday, April 5, take a pic and share it on the Child Abuse Prevention Council Facebook page [or for those not on Facebook you are welcome to send me your pics and I will share them]. Feel free to get your family, co-workers and friends involved by sharing this information. The CAPC would LOVE to see our area covered in Blue!!!

Take a photo of your blue on April 5th and share to the CFP Child Abuse Prevention Council Facebook group. Let's paint our communities BLUE!

Here is the link to the Facebook group: https:/www.facebook.com/groups/583911592087549

Thank you to the realtors and staff of Century 21 in Columbus for the recent donation of gifts and items for the youth we advocate for. The agents of Century 21 Realty Team collected donations, for the teenagers currently in the program, and were happy to present them to Lisa after a recent meeting. During this meeting Lisa spoke about CASA Connection and the difference our volunteers make in the lives of all the youth they advocate for. We are so appreciative of the generosity shown by the Century 21 team. 

In honor of Women's History Month, CASA Connection would like to recognize the Women of CASA Connection. These women include our volunteer advocates, board members & staff. They, along with the men who are also board members & volunteer advocates, are passionate about advocating for children in Colfax, Nance and Platte counties.

New CASA Connection advocate sworn-in

 

Congratulations to Renee Hyde, CASA Connection's newest volunteer advocate. Renee was sworn-in on January 3rd, by the Honorable Denise Kracl, Platte county judge. Renee is now ready to advocate for the children in our community who deserve a big-hearted adult willing to be their voice in the juvenile court system. Please welcome her into the CASA family. 

Thank you to the following organizations for their generous donations to CASA Connection: 

  • Calico Quilt Club for the donation of handmade quilts. All children deserve something to keep them warm and secure. Our volunteers will give them to the children they advocate for. 
  • Peace Lutheran Church for the donation of snacks to have available for our volunteers when they come into our office. 
  • Cornhusker Public Power Goodwill fund.
  • Guardians of the Children/Heartland chapter for the generous donation of toys from their recent toy drive. These toys will be given to our "CASA kiddos" for birthdays and Chrismas. 

 

Giving Tuesday. November 28, 2023

Join us in making a difference this #GivingTuesday! Help us advocate for the voices of abused and neglected children in foster care. Click the link to donate to CASA Connection today. 

Giving Tuesday is the Global Day of Generosity. One way to be a part of this worldwide movement is to support a cause you believe in. CASA Connection is a cause worth believing in. Our volunteers advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children in the foster care system because we believe that every child deserves to grow and learn in a safe, loving home. Advocates with CASA Connection are people just like you who believe that every child has the right to be treated with dignity, to be safe, and to thrive in the embrace of a loving family. 

Please help support CASA Connection recruit, train and support more community volunteers to advocate for children in Platte, Colfax and Nance counties by making a donation. 

https://casaconnectionne.com/how-to-help/donate.html

Donate to CASA Connection Now so we can continue to advocate for children in foster care

 

 

New CASA Connection volunteer sworn in

Please help us welcome Nila Novotny to our CASA Connection team of volunteers. Nila was sworn-in by Hon. Denice Kracl, Platte county. A long-time resident of Columbus, Nila is an Otolaryngologist with Columbus Otolaryngology Clinic. She and her husband, John, have three adult children and are active volunteers in the community. Thank you Nila for successfully completing training and for being a child's voice in court.

If you or someone you know would be interested in more information about becoming a volunteer advocate with CASA Connection please call our office: 402-563-4944 or email Lisa Rosendahl: casacoord@gmail.com

Rolaine Blaser chosen as 2023 award recipient for Serve Nebraska

CONGRATULATIONS to Rolaine Blaser
On October 6, Rolaine Blaser received the Senior Volunteer award from ServeNebraska during the annual Step Forward Awards presentation. 
On hand to see Rolaine accept her award were: Executive Director of CASA Connection Susan Jarecki, Rolaine's five children, two of her grandchildren as well as her sister. 

Rolaine has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with CASA connection for over 22 years and with the Center for Survivors for 20 years. At the Center for Survivors, she does everything from cleaning to providing childcare for mothers in crisis to fixing up the facility. CASA Connection staff feel very fortunate that Rolaine has been able to stay active and is always willing to help where she can-especially as an advocate for the children our program serves. 

The Step Forward Awards recognizes exemplary volunteers across the state for their time and service aimed at making our communities better. Governor James Pillen presented the awards to the recipients. “Volunteers are a vital part of keeping Nebraska communities strong,” said Governor Pillen. “I’m proud to be Governor in a state where community service is central to our culture. I encourage all Nebraskans to join us in thanking and celebrating them.”

ServeNebraska, the Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission, coordinates and supports community involvement by Nebraskans to address the needs of our communities. We coordinate AmeriCorps funding and programming, National Volunteer Week, and celebrate volunteer achievements through the annual Step Forward Awards.

CASA Connection is seeking adults, ages 21 and over, to volunteer with our program. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities.  These CASA volunteers are trained citizens who are appointed by a judge to speak in court for the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children.

No special background or experience is needed. You don’t need to know about court proceedings or have legal experience to become a CASA. Also: you don’t have to have a professional background as a caseworker or counselor to help a child. You will be able to rely on your training and the support of CASA staff members In the same vein, CASA volunteers come from all walks of life. More than half of all CASA volunteers are employed full-time.

Volunteer advocates—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care. Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.  CASA Connection staff provides all training our volunteers need and we set the training around their schedules. volunteers are well-trained and supported by competent and professional staff. 

  • Children with a CASA volunteer spend an average of four fewer months in out-of-home care than children without a CASA volunteer.
  • Judges, attorneys, child protective workers, and parents overwhelmingly report that CASA volunteers make a difference with the children they serve.
  • Cases involving a CASA volunteer are more likely to be permanently closed. Fewer than 10% of children with a CASA volunteer re-enter the foster care system.

CASA Connection needs YOU to ​​​​become a CASA volunteer.
You can make a lasting impact a child’s life by
becoming a CASA volunteer. 
Volunteers in Platte and Colfax counties are especially needed.

Call our office: 402-563-4944
 
​​​​​​​or email Lisa Rosendahl: casacoord@gmail.com

Thank you 4imprint #4onebyone program

Thank you 4imprint and the #4onebyone grant donation. We were able to use this grant to purchase scrapers which we will be handing out at our next event. Thank you for helping us get our organization's name out there. 

Thank you to Walmart and First Interstate BancSystem Foundation

CASA Connection would like to thank Walmart and First Interstate BancSystem Foundation for their grants. This funding will help CASA Connection in our mission to help the children we serve. 

2023 Nebraska CASA Association Chalk Art Competition

The 2023 Nebraska CASA Association's annual state-wide chalk art competition will be held from September 4 to September 15. 

WHEN:            Sept. 4th through the 15th, 2023

WHERE:           Anywhere in Nebraska

WHY:                To get the word out about CASA’s advocacy for kids  and our need for more volunteers

THEME:           Light of Hope         

Submission:   A photo of the art (preferably with the artist) submitted by 5 pm central time on Sept. 15, 2023. We ask all artists to work with their local CASA program to coordinate. 

Winners:          Announced Friday, Sept. 22nd

Prizes:              $500 Grand Prize

                           $250 Second Place

                           $100 Third Place

                           $  50  Best Children’s Piece

                           $  50 Best Family Piece

                           $  50 People’s Choice Award

 

Official Rules of the Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest – “Chalk it Up for CASA”

Everyone is welcome to apply to participate in the chalk art contest. There is no cost to submit an entry into the contest.  We ask that each participant work with their local CASA program. You can find your local program at: www.nebraskacasa.org/who_we_are/what_we_do/programs_services.html

Judging will be based on:

·      Originality/Creativity

·      Interpretation/Execution of CASA Mission, the need for more volunteers and theme. 

·      Overall Design  

The CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Mission:

To support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home, and have the opportunity to thrive.

Submit questions to: necasa.corrie@gmail.com or 402-477-2788

Additional Rules:

We recommend drawings no larger than 3 x 5 but there is no limit to size.

You must obtain permission from the owner of the sidewalk or area you are using, or if it is a public sidewalk the owner of the property surrounding it. For public spaces, please contact the local city, school, or other public authority.

Drawings on buildings, trees, or any other surface except windows (with permission) is strictly prohibited.

This is a family event. Artwork containing nudity, profanity, or content deemed inappropriate by the committee will be disqualified from the contest. (Keep it rated G)

Final chalk designs should be free-hand drawn.

There is no limit to the number of drawings submitted.

Use chalk only. Any type of liquid chalk is acceptable.

You may mix chalk dust with water, but no other liquid substances may be used.

Do not use hairspray or any other chemicals to adhere the chalk to the sidewalk or to windows.

You may create chalk art on business windows with permission.

https://www.nebraskacasa.org/chalk-art-competition.html

2023 Nebraska State CASA Conference

Step Up To The Plate For CASA. The 2023 Nebraska State CASA Conference was held this past weekend in La Vista. Speakers included former football running back Raymonn Adams, Dr. Alger Studstill, Jr. Deputy Director Deputy Director of Protection and Safety, Children & Family Services Division at Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, panelists including Lisa Gonzalez [GAL], Monika Gross, JD [FCRO], Judge Chad Brown, Dr. Studstill and Cindy Reed.

Attendees had the opportunity to attend break-out sessions on topics including "A Day in the Life of a Caseworker", How to be an Effective CASA and others. When not in the sessions everyone had a chance to connect and reconnect with fellow volunteers & staff members from CASA programs across Nebraska. A fun highlight of the weekend was the Dunking Booth Challenge Friday evening. A couple people, including NE State CASA Executive Director Corrie Kielty and RuAnn Root-Executive Director of CASA of South Central Nebraska.

*** Thank you to CASA Connection volunteers Theresa Seipel, Renee Held, Joy Dannelly, Michele Monroe, Robbin Cutsor and Dee Condon for joining Susie & Lisa on Saturday.

#CASA #NebraskaCASAConference #stepuptotheplate Nebraska CASA Association

2023 "I'm a Little Cutie" Baby Contest Winners Announced

Here are the winners of the 2023 "I'm a Little Cutie" baby contest held this past Saturday, August 12 in Frankfort Square. All winners are listed left to right.

0-6 months: 1st Place: AJ Jaster, son of Taylor Jastor. 2nd Place: Lennox Podliska, daughter of Nick & Amber Podliska. 3rd Place: Carlos Sebastian Salgado, son of Carlos Salgado & Rosa Leon.

7-12 months: 1st Place: Olivia Jasper, daughter of Joe & Monica Jasper. 2nd Place: Jaxon Lopez, son of Dru Lopez & Miranda Sealey. 3rd Place: Lexi Schreiber, daughter of Jeremy & Lesli Schreiber.

13-18 months: 1st Place: Liliana Maria Rodriguez, daughter of Jose Rodriguez & Luz Colon-Rodriguez. 2nd Place: Knox McCloud, son of Zac McCloud & Samantha Legler. 3rd Place: Jaden Krings, son of Matt & Katie Krings.

Thank you to everyone who entered their child. Once again the judges had a very difficult time choosing winners as all the babies were adorable!

Look for the CASA Connection booth in Frankfort Square on Saturday, August 12 during Columbus Days.

CASA Connection Newsletters

June is National Reunfication Month

National Reunification Month is celebrated in June of each
year to recognize 
the people and efforts around the country that help families stay together.

It is also a time to celebrate the families who have overcome obstacles to providing a safe and loving home for their children and are able to reunify after their child was placed in the child welfare system. As National CASA/GAL continues to celebrate more than 4 decades of impact, we maintain our focus on supporting families with community resources to reduce the number of interactions with the child welfare system. In 2021, 42% of CASA/GAL case closures were the result of reunification with parents or primary caregivers or children or youth remaining with parents or primary caregivers throughout the life of the case. National CASA/GAL’s second guiding principle for its member network of 939 state organizations and local programs focuses on and recognizes the importance of family preservation and/or reunification. The National CASA/GAL Standards for Local Programs includes the following: — It is in a child’s best interests to remain with their family of origin when safely possible; — The program acknowledges that children experience trauma when separated from their family of origin; and — If a child is removed from their family of origin, it is in the child’s best interests to be reunified with their family of origin as soon as safely possible.

If you would like more information on how you could become a CASA volunteer give our office a call at (402)563-4944.

Joy Dannelly recognized at annual United Way luncheon

On April 20, Joy Dannelly was recognized as an Outstanding Volunteer during the Columbus Area United Way's annual luncheon. Joy has been a volunteer advocate with CASA Connection since 2018. Joy is advocating for her second child and has done an outstanding job doing so. She has gone above and beyond to see that the young man is receiving all services and things he needs. She has formed a very trusting and caring bond with him and his foster mother through her perseverance and kindness. We are so grateful Joy stepped up to become a volunteer with CASA Connection. 

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week

This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. At CASA Connection we believe that we have the best group of volunteers. Whether they donate their time to our organization as board members, advocates or both, these community members generously give their time to our program. We are so lucky that they have chosen CASA Connection to do that. These volunteers are devoted to improving the lives of juveniles in foster care.

CASA Connection provides all training needed to become a CASA advocate. These trainings are done working around the volunteer's schedule. To become a volunteer with CASA you must be at least 21 years old, pass a background check and complete an application and training. To learn more about how YOU could become a member of our group of volunteers please give our office a call at 402-563-4944 or email Lisa Rosendahl at casacoord@gmail.com. Volunteers are needed in Colfax and Platte counties.

CASA Connection welcomes a new volunteer advocate

Please help us welcome Michele Monroe-Clark to our CASA team. Michele was sworn-in by Hon. Andrew R. Lange, Colfax county. A recent Nebraska transplant, Michele is Pastor of New Zion Presbyterian Church in Clarkson. Thank you Michele for successfully completing training and for being a child's voice in court.

This is the first CASA Connection volunteer Judge Lange has sworn in for Colfax county since he was appointed to the 5th Judicial District We are hopeful that there will be many more adults willing to step up, volunteer and be a voice for a child in foster care.

If you or someone you know would be interested in more information about becoming a volunteer advocate with CASA Connection please call our office: 402-563-4944 or email Lisa Rosendahl: casacoord@gmail.com

Thank you Trinity Lutheran Church

Thank you so much to the members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbus. Your very generous donation is greatly appreciated by all of us at CASA Connection. 

Executive Director, Susie Jarecki, holds a donation check from Thrivent. Thank you to everyone who made donations through the Thrivent program. 

Thrivent Care Packs for Kids during the month of October

CASA Connection Swears in New Volunteer

Congratulations to Cheryl Noonan, CASA Connection's newest volunteer advocate.
Cheryl was sworn in today by the Honorable Denise Kracl, Platte county judge. Cheryl is now ready to advocate for the children in our community who deserve a big-hearted adult willing to be their voice in the juvenile court system. Please welcome her into the CASA family. This was also Judge Kracl's FIRST time swearing in new advocates for CASA and she hopes to be able to have that opportunity MANY times in the future.

 

2022 Columbus Days "I'm a Little Cutie" baby contest winners

Winners of the 2022 Columbus Days "I'm a Little Cutie" Baby Contest Announced:
The annual "I'm a Little Cutie" baby contest fundraiser was held during Columbus Days recently.

The winners in each age group are: 

0-6 months: 
First Place: Agustin Santiago Palma
2nd Place: Brecken Lehr
3rd Place: Amelia McCollum

7-12 months:
First Place: Memphis Napier
2nd Place: Maliha Hernandez
3rd Place: Nicole Nevirah Wood

13-18 months:
First Place: Stetson Avina
2nd Place: Will McCloskey
3rd Place: Rocky McPhillips

CASA Connection Welcomes First New Volunteers From Nance County

On July 22, 2022 Clerk Magistrate of Nance County, Shirley Stuart Monroe performed the swearing-in ceremony of the very first CASA volunteers in Nance County. Joining our CASA family are: (Right to left) Kimberly Olsufka; Annette Swantek and Barb Howser. These ladies stepped up to the plate to become advocates for the abused and neglected children in Nance County.

WELCOME!!!

Leadership Columbus class of 2021/2022 includes CASA Connection volunteers and staff member

Congratulations to the 30th graduating class of Leadership Columbus as they go on to be future leaders of our community! Lisa Rosendahl, Outreach Coordinator for CASA Connection was a member of this class as well as CASA Connection volunteers Karmen Thompson and Keith Luedders. This is a wonderful way for class members to get involved in our community. 

Thank You CASA Connection Volunteers

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation month Susie & Lisa want to send a huge thank you to all of our awesome volunteer advocates & our board members! We think we have some of the BEST volunteers in our community. You give your hearts and your time into making sure that the children we serve have a voice in the courtroom.

You strive towards making a difference.
Thank you for being so selfless with us and for so many in whose lives you make a tangible difference.

CASA Connection wants to welcome Tim Sky to our awesome group of volunteers! Tim completed 30 hours of pre-service training and was sworn in today by the Honorable Frank Skorupa of Platte county.
Thank you Tim for stepping up to be a voice for children in the foster care system. Welcome to the team!

Go Blue for Child Abuse Day 2022

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month!!!
Help raise awareness for child abuse prevention.
WEAR BLUE ON APRIL 8th, 2022 for child abuse prevention.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO PROTECT A CHILD!


If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected CALL the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-652-1999
 

CASA Connection expands to Nance County

CASA Connection, the local Court Appointed Special Advocate program advocating for Foster children in Platte and Colfax County is now expanding into Nance County.

CASA Connection is a non-profit agency that recruits, screens, trains, and supervises community volunteers who advocate in the best interest of abused and neglected children. These children are in court through no fault of their own. They have been placed into the state’s custody and into the foster care system.

Susie Jarecki, the program’s Executive Director stated, “We are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers who provide advocacy to children who deserve someone in their corner. It is important to us to ensure all children who need an advocate, have one.”

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers are well-trained and speak in court for the best interest of abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers are appointed to a case by the judge. The volunteer's goal is to provide a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child's future. Each home placement case is as unique as the child involved. 

The CASA volunteer researches the child's best interests to stay with his or her parents or guardians, remain in foster care, or permanent adoption. The CASA volunteer makes a recommendation on placement and follows through on the case until it is permanently resolved. CASA volunteers are often the only stable factor in an often frightening and difficult ordeal for a child. 

Nebraska has more than 3,000 children each year who are taken from their homes and placed with someone else, often a family they do not know. These children negotiate a new home, new school, and attend courtroom hearings with a revolving door of adults; all while coping with the trauma of abuse and neglect.

These children deserve and need someone in their corner to make sure their voices and wishes  are heard, and their needs are met.

To find out more about CASA Connection please visit our website at casaconnectionne.com or give us a call at 402.563.4944. 

Congratulations to Terri Lab-CASA Connection's newest volunteer advocate
On September 30, the Honorable Frank J. Skorupa swore in CASA Connection's newest volunteer advocate, Terri Lab of Columbus. Terri recently completed the CASA program pre-service training in order to advocate for children in our community. Along with being officially sworn in Terri has already accepted her first case to advocate for. We are grateful that she has chosen to volunteer her time advocating for these children. Thank you Terri. If you know Terri please congratulate her and welcome her to the CASA family. 

Chalk It Up For CASA winners announced. Congratulations Claire Renner of Columbus for being the Grand Prize Winner in the Nebraska State CASA Association's Chalk It Up For CASA chalk art competition!!!

CASA Connection welcomes a new volunteer!! Congratulations to Keith Luedders who was sworn in April 15 by the Honorable Frank Skorupa, Platte County juvenile court judge. Keith is ready to advocate for the children in our community who deserve big hearted adults willing to be their voice in the juvenile court system. In fact he has already jumped in with both feet and has accepted his first case to advocate for! Please welcome them into the CASA family.

 

The 2023 "I'm a Little Cutie" Baby Contest will be held on Saturday, August 12, starting at 8:30 am at the Frankfort Square stage, downtown Columbus. Pre-registration is required and must be turned in to our office by August 10th. Registration is open at https://casaconnectionne.com/cutie. For more information or to pick up a registration form please call our office: 402-563-4944. 

Thank you to our generous donors


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