Children's advocacy program desperately seeking funds

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Jan 16, 2018 5:22 AM

FILE PHOTO: (Harrison Sweazea via AP)

(Harrisburg) -- A program that helps children during family court proceedings says it's in a financial crisis.

Susquehanna Valley CASA is trying to raise $30,000 in the next month.

The CASAs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are volunteers who speak up for children in abuse and neglect cases. Funding is needed to pay the salaries of case-workers who recruit, train and manage those volunteers.

Susquehanna Valley CASA covers Lycoming, Snyder, Union, and Northumberland counties, but only Lycoming includes the organization in its annual budget. Commissons in the other three counties are currently reviewing their budgets.

The advocacy group has been relying mainly on grants since it formed from separate groups in 2014.

Executive director Yvonne Heatley says right now there are only 30 volunteers working with 56 children across the four counties.

"Oftentimes they [the volunteers] are the only consistent adult in that child's life because many of them are in foster case, especially those with the worst cases," Heatley said.

About 200 children are on a waiting list for a volunteer.

Heatley says children who have an advocate spend about seven months less time in the court system, compared to those without advocates. They also do better in school. 

Heatley says she is exhausting fundraising and grant opportunities. She's launched an online crowdfunding campaign in a bid for community support.

Pennsylvania is one of handful of states that do not provide funding for CASA organizations.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »