This past year CASA of Jefferson County has been able to maintain the trajectory of growth that we had hoped for in 2017. We have been able to retain our major funding sources, grow our staff, and increase the number of volunteers. This has allowed us to accomplish our goal of serving an increasing number of children in Jefferson County. In April of this year we hired Christina Bier to fill our second Volunteer Coordinator position. She has proved to be a valuable addition to our team that consists of four staff members.
With just over 700 kids in the custody of Child Protective Services in Jefferson County, our program was able to have CASA volunteers assigned to 136 children in 2017. Although we have a long way to go before we reach our eventual goal of serving every child in need, the growth of our program has been steady. We have expanded from 21 volunteers serving 36 children as of December 2015, 45 volunteers serving 72 children as of December 2016, and as of the end of 2017 we had 59 volunteers serving 98 children. The documented volunteer hours have increased from 599 hours in 2014, 1140 hours in 2015 and 2136 hours in 2016 to 3104 hours in 2017. We have been able to offer three pre-service volunteer training class sessions this year and have offered two volunteer in-service training sessions using the National CASA Fostering Futures curriculum.
Our CASA Volunteers each serve just one child or sibling group at a time. These dedicated volunteers are devoting their time and energy to advocating for children that need a consistent and caring person in their lives. They are the heart of what we do, as they care so deeply about the kids. They are committing themselves to forming a relationship with the child through regular visits, watching out for them, and speaking up for their best interests until a permanent home is found. This is certainly a group of selfless individuals that are worthy of our sincere admiration.
We continue to focus on strategies to address challenges that our program faces. We have been testing strategies for greater volunteer recruitment which also encourages cultural and gender diversity in our volunteer pool. Volunteer retention has been addressed this year by responding to volunteer requests for more opportunities for peer interaction and in-service continuing education with monthly, rather than quarterly, Peer Support Meetings. Being a single county non-profit in a high need-low resource area poses funding challenges. Our primary grant supporters are Victims of Crime Act, Missouri CASA, and the Jefferson Foundation. They are what allows our program to move forward, but direct public support fundraising is still crucial to our program because our grants re only approved year-to-year and even though they are generous, they do not cover all of the costs to run our program.
Our progress is encouraging and with our devoted volunteers, staff, Board of Directors, grantors and supporters the future of our organization looks bright. We will continue to focus on our mission, address our challenges and work hard to advocate for the most vulnerable among us.
CASA of Jefferson County