Yellowstone CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is the fortunate recipient of a $300 gift from Debt Reduction Services in Billings. Debt Reduction Services has indicated plans for continued sustained giving to support advocacy efforts for abused children in Yellowstone County.

Yellowstone CASA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to train and provide volunteers to represent the interests of abused and neglected children in the Yellowstone County court system. These Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers serve as a child’s voice in court, promote the child’s best interests and advocate for a safe, permanent home.

“This generous gift will help us continue to recruit and train new volunteer advocates, sustaining the growth of our program as new children come into the court system,” said Angela Campbell, Executive Director of Yellowstone CASA. “These children have a right to have their voices heard, and that’s what we do. Our vision is to serve every child in need by the end of 2013, and donations like this are a huge help as we grow to meet that vision.”

Yellowstone CASA’s 70 volunteers currently represent the needs of 144 children in the Yellowstone County court system due to abuse or neglect. “Our volunteers serve as the investigative body of the judge, meeting regularly with the child, interviewing people involved in the child’s life, and reporting monthly as to the child’s best interests,” said Campbell. “Our volunteers dedicated over 5,000 hours last year to representing abused and neglected children. Some cases take months, while others take years. CASA volunteers are there for the duration to help these children find safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.”

Campbell added, “Despite our efforts last year, more than 100 abused children in the Yellowstone County court system did not have a CASA volunteer available to speak for them in court. We are very grateful to Debt Reduction Services for choosing to help meet the need for new child advocacy volunteers in Yellowstone County.”

Debt Reduction Services is a nonprofit, full-service debt management and credit counseling organization that helps consumers overcome financial challenges and learn to live debt free. Branch Manager Sharon Welborn said learning about Yellowstone CASA and its mission led to her decision to support the organization.

“I know from personal experience the feeling of hopelessness these children have,” said Welborn, “and if we can have a part in bringing hope, then we can bring healing. Abused children need to know they are not alone, and people do care and will help.”

Campbell added that Yellowstone CASA receives less than twenty percent of its annual budget from state and county funds, and therefore relies heavily on donations from individuals and businesses such as Debt Reduction Services. “These donations make an immediate difference in the children’s lives,” she said, “and they also make a long-term difference in our community. At CASA, we believe children have a right not just to survive, but to thrive, and children who get into safe, permanent homes have a better chance of thriving and fulfilling their potential when they become adults.”

CASA volunteers must complete an initial 30 hour new volunteer training, be able to volunteer 5-15 hours per month for a minimum of 18-24 months and submit to a background check. New volunteer trainings are conducted in October and March each year. For more information about Yellowstone CASA, contact Angela Campbell, Executive Director, at 259-1233 or angela@yellowstonecasa.org, or visit www.yellowstonecasa.org.