Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee County Celebrates 30 Years of Child Advocacy
This year marks 30 years of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a program of The Children’s Haven, serving children experiencing foster care in Cherokee County. CASA volunteers provide child advocacy and are the voice for children, advocating for their best interests. To celebrate and commemorate this special milestone, a luncheon was held to honor CASA volunteers, past and present. Marcie Smith, Executive Director of The Children’s Haven shared, “We are thrilled to celebrate our dedicated CASA volunteers as we honor 30 years of child advocacy in Cherokee County. Our CASA volunteers are the heartbeat of our mission at The Children’s Haven. They truly make a difference in the lives of our kids who are experiencing foster care. We are so grateful for this community and the faithful support they have invested in our work. We know wonderful things will happen in our program’s next 30 years!”
The event was also attended by elected officials, Cherokee County judges, county and state community partners as well as generous sponsors, with Northside Hospital Cherokee as the presenting sponsor for the celebration. Sarah Mackey, Chief Development Officer with National CASA, shared about the history of the CASA organization and Jennifer King, Executive Director of Georgia CASA, thanked the community for supporting our local program and Georgia CASA’s valued work covering all 159 counties in the state of Georgia. Harry Johnston, Chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, read a county proclamation, declaring October 20, 2023 as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Day in Cherokee County, Georgia in honor of the organization’s 30th Anniversary. State Representative Mandi Ballinger presented a resolution commemorating the 30th anniversary of the CASA program and recognizing the dedicated work of volunteers. Judge Jennifer Davis shared family and child well-being statistics from Cherokee County as well as the state of Georgia, indicating that Cherokee County is the third highest in the state for the number of children in foster care. On October 20th, there were 429 Cherokee County children in foster care. These statistics are a reminder of the significant need for CASA volunteers, as well as highlighting the urgency for additional CASA volunteers in order to provide an advocate for every child experiencing foster care.
Since its founding 30 years ago in 1993, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children in Cherokee County has trained 816 community volunteers, advocated for 2,906 children experiencing foster care due to abuse and neglect and donated more than 156,278 hours of service. Every year, there are more than 10,000 children in Georgia experiencing the foster care system at no fault of their own due to abuse and neglect and they rely on adults to advocate on their behalf. Last year alone, over 167 Cherokee CASA volunteers advocated for nearly 357 children in our state’s legal custody, providing each child with impartial advocacy that nurtures hope, seeks solutions, and stands in the gap between a challenging present and a promising future. A CASA volunteer is a deeply committed, specially trained individual from the community who is appointed by the juvenile court judge to improve a child’s experience in foster care by providing individualized attention, bringing urgency to children’s needs throughout their time in state custody, and offering consistency and continuity by helping to connect information among case managers, foster parents, attorneys, and many other stakeholders.
In celebration of this momentous occasion, the CASA program is aiming to raise $30,000 in honor and celebration of 30 years. CASA volunteers are needed to be the voice for all children in foster care. Funds raised will allow the CASA program to train additional volunteers to serve each child in need. To give, volunteer or learn more, please visit CherokeeChildrensHaven.org. Also, follow The Children’s Haven on Facebook, Instagram and Linked In to stay connected to their mission.
CASA is a program of The Children’s Haven. The Children’s Haven is located at 1083 Marietta Hwy., Canton and is home to four programs focused on prevention and support services for at-risk families: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Wellstar Family Visitation Center, Prevent Child Abuse Cherokee In-Home Parenting Program and Chin Up Mentorship Program. The mission at The Children’s Haven is to promote the health and happiness of children impacted by abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit CherokeeChildrensHaven.org.