Dear Friends of CASA,
Looking back, we started the 2020 fiscal year with a sense of excitement. We had just finished a year having achieved the goal of serving every child in need, and we started the new fiscal year (July 2019) with no children on the waiting list for a CASA volunteer. Our dream of having volunteers trained and ready to serve as the need arose seemed within reach.
We could not have known what 2020 had in store for us – all of us!
Before the pandemic became part of our lives, we saw an increase in the number of children who came into the foster care system. The less talked about epidemics of Methamphetamine and Heroin abuse were drastically impacting local families, and sadly, it is the children who pay the highest price. At the end of 2019, we once again were managing a waiting list of nearly 100 children in need of a CASA.
Many of the children that came into care were infants, born addicted, and removed from their parents for their health and safety before leaving the hospital. Other children had to be removed from their homes when law enforcement or social services determined that they could not be safely cared for by parents suffering severe addiction. In some cases, we saw horrific instances of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and trafficked children.
Whatever their age, children removed from their home because of abuse or neglect face a frightening, profound unknown. Our job is to make sure they don’t face it alone.
In response to the increased need, we doubled our efforts to find more committed volunteers and added additional training classes.
And then – COVID-19.
All the fear, the concern for family, friends, and neighbors, and the shock of seeing empty shelves in our markets was something that most of us had not experienced in our lifetimes. We were truly all in it together. Using email newsletters, we increased our communication with you to let you know how we planned to manage the crisis and the impending safe at home order. We also improved communication with our volunteers. While we wanted to make sure that they knew we would be there to continue to support them, we were worried about them too as more than half of our volunteers are in the high-risk age group, and we wanted to do what we could to make sure they were safe.
During it all the children were the core concern for us all.
Imagine what it was like for a child in foster care. Living in a new place, possibly with people you have never known, amid the chaos brought to us by the pandemic. Schools were closed, and so many of the safety nets that our community has for children also closed. That is the challenges our children faced. It is for that very reason that CASA of Santa Barbara County never closed our doors.
We never stopped, and can’t stop, because children rely on their CASA volunteers to be a link to safety, and CASA volunteers rely on the CASA team for support and guidance. Our commitment to stand by children in need does not end when times are tough. We know that may be when we are needed most.
We are compassionate adults who are a consistent presence, who care, who listen, especially when a child is scared. We are there to help them heal and thrive. We give them the support they need to become happy, successful adults. We help them find the road home, wherever it lies. We are there for as long as it takes to reach a safe, permanent home.
None of this changed when life threw us a curveball.
We changed HOW we got things done when a change was needed. We adapted as we all learned new skills and new ways to communicate. This year’s annual report has a special section to report on how we adjusted our operations to continue working to keep children safe.
We are so grateful that you, our Impact Investors, continued to support CASA’s mission. In many cases, you increased your support. We are honored to present CASA of Santa Barbara County’s Impact Report 2020, where you will see the results you made possible by supporting the CASA team of more than 300 CASA volunteers, board and committee members, and the CASA staff.
Yours in the service of children,
Kim Colby Davis
Board of Directors, President