Human Services

Heart of Missouri CASA

COLUMBIA, MO

Mission

Our mission is to train and support exceptional volunteers to be a voice for every abused and neglected child in the Boone and Callaway County Family Court.

Ruling Year

2005

Executive Director

Kelly Hill

Main Address

105 E Ash St Suite 102

COLUMBIA, MO 65203 USA

Keywords

court based advocacy for children

EIN

20-2408567

 Number

3760659469

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Foster Care (P32)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

The number of children removed from their parents because of abuse/neglect has increased every year since 2010 in our communities. In October 2019, the number of Missouri children in foster care reached a record high. In the 13th Judicial Circuit, 650+ children are involved in foster care each year. Compare this to 2008-2013 when the yearly average was 355, our ongoing crisis is apparent. After experiencing trauma at the hands of their guardians, children are placed into an overburdened child welfare system, although full of caring professionals, is not equipped to give every child the attention they need to heal and thrive. The high number of children needing the protection of our courts creates an ever-present strain on our system stakeholders. Caseworker turnover and high caseload sizes remain a serious issue for positive child outcomes. Frequent placement changes, turnover in case professionals, and constant uncertainty lead to further traumatization for the children.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

CASA Child Advocacy

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of children served

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related program

CASA Child Advocacy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Our mission is to train and support volunteers to be exceptional voices for every abused and neglected child in the Boone and Callaway County family courts. We aim to improve outcomes for children in our local foster care system. We work to ensure children remain free from re-abuse while in foster care, have all their needs met (educational, medical, therapeutic), and achieve a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. Our CASA volunteers watch over and advocate for these children to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. Because children in foster care change homes frequently and case worker turnover is rampant, the CASA volunteer is often the one consistent adult presence—the one adult who cares only for their best interests – throughout the child’s entire time in foster care.

CASA exists to ensure children involved in the family court due to abuse/neglect have an objective advocate focused solely on their best interests who will advocate for permanency and be a stable, constant adult, oftentimes the only constant, in the child's life until the case closes with the courts. We do this by recruiting, screening, training, and supporting volunteers who are appointed by the family court judge to act as the eyes and ears of the court. Potential volunteers complete an intensive screening process, including an interview, 3 reference checks, and a comprehensive background screening. Following completion of the 30-hour pre-service training, volunteers are sworn-in as officers of the court and are appointed to a case, which on average has 2 children. CASA volunteers promote the best interests of the children by learning all they can about the child and case, engaging with the child during regular visits, collaborating with others to ensure the necessary services are provided to the child and family, making recommendations regarding the child's placement and needed services, reporting what they've learned to the court, and monitoring the child's situation until the case closes. Volunteers have only one case at a time so they are able to become experts on that child/case, which puts them in a unique position to be that child's voice in court. To ensure volunteers provide excellent advocacy, CASA staff provide ongoing supervision and coaching to every advocate.

We employ 8 staff, 6 of whom are direct program staff focused on recruiting, screening, training, and supporting 140+ CASA volunteers each year. Each volunteer advocates for 2 children on average, giving 6-10 hours a month in advocacy. We are currently serving 50% of the children in need in our judicial circuit. We operate under a Memorandum of Understanding that details our collaborative work with our Family Court partners. This includes the Family Court Judge, Children’s Division (CD), Juvenile Office (JO), and Guardians Ad Litem (GAL). The MOU outlines the types of cases CASA receive from the court, the roles/responsibilities of the CASA, implementation of volunteer activities, working relationships with the court, conflicts of interest, and termination of a CASA appointment. The CASA role is designed to be collaborative in nature, working as part of the Family Support Team (FST) which includes the parents, children (if age appropriate), CD, JO, GAL, Parent Attorney, and CASA volunteer. The CASA volunteer must be a cooperative partner, sharing information and concerns with the entire group, in order to effectively implement the responsibility of reporting directly to the Judge regarding the children’s wellbeing and best interests. As our MOU details, the CASA volunteer’s duties complement, but do not duplicate, the duties of other professionals on the case. CASA volunteers, in a sense, fulfill some of the GAL responsibilities at a more in-depth level. We are funded through a variety of sources including the Boone County Children's Service Fund, Victims of Crime Act funding, United Way, our state and national associations, local foundations, and community/individual support. Our revenue has nearly doubled over the last 3 years as we have grown our capacity in order to serve more children in need.

Initially, we measure success by the number of children we are able to serve. We are currently working on a strategic goal to be serving no less than 75% of the children in need by the end of our Fiscal Year 2023. This requires us to increase our number of volunteer advocates and professional staff to supervise these volunteers. In addition to simply measuring the number of children who have an advocate, we measure the impact of our services on the outcomes for these children. We track and measure the following outcomes: 95% fo children with a CASA will remain free from re-abuse while in foster care, children with a CASA will achieve permanency in under 24 months, 90% of children with a CASA volunteer whose cases close with the courts will achieve a permanent outcome (reunification, adoption, guardianship), 90% of volunteer recommendations will be accepted/ordered by the family court judge, and CASA volunteers will submit a court report at every hearing for their assigned children.

Since opening in 2005, we have trained over 400 volunteers and advocated for over 900 children. We are set to pass 1,000 children served in 2020. Since 2016, our program has grown dramatically. In 2016, we were serving 22% of the children in need. As of January 2020, we are serving 50% of those in need. We have increased our active volunteer base from 73 in 2016 to over 140 in 2020. In 2019, we achieved the following outcomes: - 100% of children with a CASA volunteer (294/294) remained free from re-abuse while in foster care. - Children with a CASA volunteer whose cases closed with the courts (N=58) achieved permanency in an average of 20 months. The median length of time to permanency was 17 months. - 95% (55/58) of children with a CASA whose cases closed with the court achieved a permanent outcome (reunification, adoption, guardianship) - 95% (445/467) of volunteer recommendations to the court were accepted or ordered by the Family Court Judge. - 97% (250/259) of hearings which required a written court report had a court report submitted.

External Reviews

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Financials

Heart of Missouri CASA

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable