October 1991: Local foster parents attended a PA conference regarding permanency for children;
February 1993 - Three foster parents, the CYS Director, other human services agencies directors, and the Erie Co. CASA Director presented the CASA concept to retired Judge Gordon Miller, who gave his support and the go-ahead to proceed;
September 1993 - A permanent founding Board of Directors was established;
November 1993 - The 1st class of CASA volunteers were trained and sworn-in;
January 1994 - Crawford County CASA was incorporated;
June 1995 - A National CASA Association start-up grant was secured to fund the program for two years;
2017 - More than twenty years later Crawford County CASA remains committed to serving the most vulnerable population: abused and neglected children.
2019- Crawford County CASA partnered with PA CASA to receive pass through funding through a VOCA (Victim's of Crime Act) grant. First time ever being awarded this type of grant!!
Each year, children are placed into foster or kinship care. Sometimes they are often separated from their siblings and caught up in a confusing and complicated system of social workers, foster homes, courts, service agencies and child welfare departments. Sadly, most of them must do the best they can to navigate this complex world without a dependable, consistent adult presence to help. Too many remain without permanent homes, fail to graduate from high school, and end up homeless, unemployed, incarcerated or dependent on social and welfare systems as adults.
In 2018, 13 Crawford County CASA volunteers advocated for 22 children, donating close to a 1,000 hours, attending 62 court hearings, attending 31 meetings and writing over 40 court reports. CASA helps these children by recruiting and training volunteers to provide a voice for those who do not have the ability to speak up for themselves in this convoluted process. CASA volunteers stay with their case until it is closed, an average of 33 months locally, showing their commitment to place the child in a safe, permanent home. For many abused and neglected children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence that stays with them until they have a safe, permanent home CASA volunteers are only assigned to one case, allowing them the ability to spend more time visiting with the child, and contacting those working with the family.
CASA’s solution is a winning equation for children but also the taxpaying public. Abuse and neglect cost taxpayers $104 Billion each year. Every dollar spent on a CASA volunteer saves at least $27 in taxpayer money. CASA is one of the few success stories where the private sector the public sector and the incredible people-power of 70,000 volunteers has come together to effect real and lasting change.
Associate Legal Counsel, Meadville Medical Center
MEET OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Crawford County CASA, Inc., under professional leadership, trains and provides citizen volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children who are involved in juvenile court proceedings primarily as a result of abuse and/or neglect. These volunteers conduct an independent investigation, establish working relationships with all involved parties and services, report their findings and recommendations to the court, and help monitor compliance with family service plans and court orders. Crawford County CASA is dedicated to ensuring that children have a safe, permanent and nurturing home in the shortest time frame possible.
Larry Dickson - Vice President
Clinical Director, Mind Body Wellness
Crawford County District Attorney
Crawford County CASA staff:
Cindy Knight, Executive Director
Mitch King, Case Supervisor
Jim Babcock - Treasurer
Retired Business Consultant
Growth & Development Coordinator
Blooming Valley Landscape
Diane Patton - President
Assistant to VP Development & Alumni, Allegheny College
Paula DiGiacomo - Secretary
Assistant District Attorney
Dr. Salene Cowher
Former Chief Sheriff, Crawford County