The race beneficiary of this year’s run is CASA of Denton County: Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Denton County, Inc. is a volunteer-based non-profit organization serving the Denton County area. CASA volunteers are appointed by the court to serve as advocates for abused or neglected children removed from their homes by Child Protective Services (CPS). These volunteers investigate and monitor a child’s situation while in alternative or foster care. Within a twelve to eighteen month time period, they make a recommendation to the presiding judge as to what permanent placement would be in the best interest of the child.
Although professionals in the child welfare system are often overworked and frequently change positions, the CASA volunteer is intended to be a constant presence in the lives of abused and neglected children. By advocating for the best interests of the child above all else, CASA hopes to ensure that each and every child is given the opportunity to grow and thrive in a safe, loving, and permanent home.
CASA of Denton County is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.
The CASA concept was initiated by Superior Court Judge David Soukup in Seattle, Washington in 1976. Judge Soukup, concerned that he was not receiving adequate information to make appropriate rulings on behalf of abused and neglected children, appointed a group of community volunteers to perform an independent investigation of each child’s situation. The concept was well received and, today, there are more than 1,000 CASA programs nationwide. Of these, 72 programs are located in the state of Texas, serving a total of 214 counties. CASA was first introduced to the Denton County community by a small group of concerned citizens as early as 1989. By 1991, five Denton County district court judges had signed a “program support intent form,” signifying their endorsement of the CASA concept and their support of the proven assistance a local CASA program could provide in their courtrooms. In February of 1992, the program was granted its Articles of Incorporation and began providing court advocacy services for child victims of abuse and neglect.
From 1992 to 1996, the CASA program in Denton County was operated solely by volunteers on a shoestring budget, serving up to eleven children in any one year. In 1996, the first paid staff person was hired and the program really began to take shape. Today, CASA of Denton County employs 17 full-time staff, utilizes up to 250 volunteer child advocates annually, has a 19-member Board of Directors, and serves more than 600 children each year.
The mission of CASA of Denton County, Inc.
is to advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Our trained and supported community volunteers build a strong, consistent relationship with each child and their family, promote community resources, and make informed recommendations to the court.