During the past year CASA of Jefferson County has continued to grow and establish itself as a stable organization in the community. We have been able to again maintained our major funding sources, grow our staff, maintain a nine-member Board of Directors, and increase the number of abused and neglected children served by a CASA volunteer. In October of 2018 we hired Julie Lewis as our third Volunteer Coordinator. Julie has brought with her a wealth of valuable experience and knowledge and is proving to be a great asset to our team of five staff members.
The current numbers of abused and neglected children in the custody of Child Protective Services are over 700 and during 2018 CASA volunteers were assigned to 174 of those children as compared to 136 children in 2017. We have grown our volunteer pool from 59 serving 98 children at the end of 2017 to 75 serving 117 at the end of 2018. Although we still have a long way to go before we reach our eventual goal of serving every child in need of an advocate, we have continued to increase the number of children with a CASA by their side.
Our primary grant supporters are the Victims of Crime Act, Missouri CASA, and the Jefferson Foundation. Thanks to our grant funding, volunteer recruitment strategies were put in place this year that included increased visibility in the community through a billboard on a major highway, increasing our engagement on social media, and continuing the use of newspaper ads. Funding from these sources has also allowed us to grow our staff and add needed office equipment so that our day to day operations can run efficiently. Direct public support fundraising is also crucial to cover costs not covered by our grants. All of these things put us in a position to be able to provide the crucial support to volunteers so that they can focus on their work with the children that need them so very much.
Board of Directors development has been another area that we have focused on in the last year. We have developed strategies to increase board involvement, recruit board members with diverse skill sets, included an educational spotlight at each board meeting, and have implemented an online board orientation program. Our Board provides the vital backbone of the organization and we are grateful for their involvement.
Our 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. They are committing themselves to forming a relationship with the child through regular visits, watching out for them, and speaking up for their best interest until a permanent home is found. This is certainly a group of selfless individuals that are worthy of our sincere admiration.
The progress we have made 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.