TORRINGTON – Just ahead of Giving Tuesday – held annually the week after Thanksgiving to promote philanthropy – local volunteers and representatives of the Wyoming Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Network wrapped and delivered hundreds of toys to children across the state, including Goshen County.
“I operate the state organization, which will be operated out of Torrington,” CASA Executive Director Jennifer Childs said. The organization plans to secure an office space in Torrington no later than spring 2018, with direct services expected to be offered by mid-summer.
“I wrote a grant to the Toy Foundation during their ‘Play Your Part Campaign,” she said “The Toy Foundation collaborates with toy manufacturers along the west coast to donate toys to children on the west half of the U.S. They awarded my organization 1,500 new toys for children in our state.”
The weekend before Thanksgiving, Childs and 15 volunteers wrapped more than 700 gifts for child victims of abuse and neglect receiving CASA services in the state, and on Monday, loaded a trailer and delivered the toys around Wyoming. The organization will also donate 200 gifts to the Goshen County PRACTICE After School Program, and offer toys to more than 100 families in Big Horn County affected by recent layoffs.
“It was a huge blessing for the children in our state to receive such a great gift from the Toy Foundation, and we are so very grateful for their ‘Play Your Part Campaign’,” Childs said.
State CASA organizations provide essential services and training to local programs or offices and can facilitate communication and sharing of best practices among their local programs, according to Childs. Because state organizations are usually in close communication with local programs, they are well situated to understand local issues, regional interests/groupings and provide timely and appropriate technical assistance.
In response to local needs, state organizations also develop and administer state standards, which may be more detailed than national ones, she explained.
“(CASA) operate(s) in the district court as a friend of the court,” Childs said. “They are appointed to cases of child victims of abuse and neglect when they enter the foster care system, follow the case, write court reports, and always give the child a voice in the system.”
In an email, Childs stated the work done in state organizations supports the most important work in the CASA network: that of the local programs and the thousands of individual volunteers willing to advocate for children in some of the most difficult cases facing our court systems.