Grant Application Entries
CASA of Northeast Ky, Inc.
2800 Louisa Street, Suite 300
Catlettsburg, Kentucky 41129
CASA's Community Closet
CASA of Northeast Ky, Inc. services Boyd, Carter and now expanding to Elliott and Morgan Counties since 2000. During this time, we have served children who are involved in the Court system due to being victims of child abuse, neglect and/or dependency and involved in the Court system through no fault of their own, but in need of protection and permanency. Once the Court places them into the care, custody and control of the State, the Court can also appoint one of our advocates to walk alongside that child while they are in care. Our primary role is to advocate for that child in every aspect in the courtroom, classroom and community. Our advocates make sure the child is safe in their new placement, their wishes are known to the Judge at all times, and their needs are met. Our advocates do this by talking to the child often, visiting them in their placement, interviewing their caregivers, teachers, service providers, and their biological families. Our advocates also spend a significant amount of time collecting records and gathering information regarding the child and their family. Our advocates work for the child and attend all case reviews, and hearings to make sure the child stays at the forefront of all proceedings and that their needs stay the top priority in a very overburdened and complex legal and child welfare system.
The project we are writing to ask for funding for today is one that would allow us to provide direct services. We want to be able to give items to the children that we serve, and to their families. We want to help empower, encourage and equip them with items that will help them to better their lives, situations and outcomes. Below is a list of the items we wish we had funding to provide.
Many times, both in the new foster home placement, and especially in the biological home setting when reunification occurs, our advocates identify one common denominator and that is the lack of personal care items. These homes lack basic items such as shampoo, soap, deodorant and other household cleaning supplies. If they do have the items, they are in a very limited quantity and often times not enough for the number of people in the household. Another common observation is that they do not have basic home furnishings such as sheets, pillows, pillow cases, dressers for their clothes to be stored, towels, wash cloths, and even pots and pans or dishes and bowls. Not having these items make an already difficult situation feel even more hopeless and discouraging. I was in a biological home and noticed that my summer sandals were sticking to the floor as I walked across the kitchen floor. When I inquired as to the cleaning supplies that the mother had, I found one dirty mop, a broken bucket and a gallon of bleach. I thought of my own cleaning pantry and all the convenient ways I could keep my home clean and then wondered how motivated I would be if all I had were the items I found in this home. We would like to request funding to purchase these items to be able to provide them to both foster homes in need, but even more importantly for biological families when the home is safe for the children to re-enter the home again. While there are agencies that provide assistance, none offer the items listed above. The help they receive are more monetary assistance for utilities and rent. We would like to be able to offer the items in our own houses that we have that would make our daily living more difficult in their absence.
We would also like to request funding to be able to purchase journals and books for our foster children. The journals are very therapeutic and gives the child an outlet to write and express their feelings as they navigate their way through a very traumatic time in their lives when they are torn from their biological families. We have found that many of our children respond to the journals quite well when provided to them and use them often, even requesting them for birthdays or Christmas. We would also like to help instill the love of reading and it has the potential to empower and change their lives by giving them another outlet but also to expand their vocabulary, comprehension and learning abilities. We would like to buy planners for families to keep track of their case plan appointments and events to increase their chance at positive outcomes.
We have also seen our CASA kids actually request art supplies, especially those placed in residential facilities. We try to keep a supply in the office but the popular supplies go fast and we do not have a funding source allocated for such direct services.
We would also like to use some of the money for school supplies to be able to give to our foster children so they can have what they need to excel in their school settings. We realize that family resource centers have these items available, but they cannot serve 100% of the need and often times their supply has to be rationed to the point that kids still do not receive everything they need on their school list.
We also see a need for travel bags for our kids as they travel home for overnight visits, or even when they are removed from their biological homes. I have accompanied the state agency when a child has been removed and it is demeaning and devastating to dump all of a child's most treasured items and belongings into a large trash bag. We would use funds from this grant to purchase overnight travel bags for the children we serve to give them back dignity and a tool to use as they move around from placement to placement.
CASA of NEKY would purchase the personal care items, cleaning supplies, home furnishings, journals, art supplies, planners, school supplies, and travel bags once funding is received. We will then create an inventory list of all the items available for donation to our children and their placement families. We would post this information on a members only section of our website for our advocates to communicate the resources to our families. We also call our foster families once a month to offer support and we would communicate our resources during those calls and ask for any unmet needs they might have. We would also offer assistance to our biological families once the family is ready to reunification. We would deliver the personal care, journals, art supplies and travel bags items to our children directly when we make our face to face visits. The home furnishings, cleaning supplies and planners would be delivered to the families at the appropriate times of family reunification. We have a large storage area in the Courthouse, where our CASA offices are located, and all the items would be stored in that area and would remain locked with only appropriate staff having access to distribute the items.
CASA of NEKY has been serving children and families in Boyd County Court since 2000. According to the Census, Boyd County's population is approximately 47,000 people with 94% being Caucasian and the median household income being $46,000. We expanded to Carter County two years ago and have been serving children and families there with their population being 27,000 and 97% of the population being Caucasian and with a median household income of $33k. Just this year, we are expanding our area of service to neighboring Elliott and Morgan Counties. Elliott County is a very rural area with a population of only 7,500, which 95% are Caucasian and the median household income is $33. Morgan County is not much bigger, still very rural, with a population of 13,000 people, 93% Caucasian and median household income being $34k. All of these areas are very rural and the sources of resources are quite limited.
CASA of NEKY has a total of 4 staff at this time. There is a full-time Executive Director, a full-time Volunteer and Case Coordinator, a full-time Recruiter/Trainer, and a part time office assistant. We have 25 volunteer advocates taking cases and directly serving children and families. Each of these advocates are screened, trained, sworn in by the Judges, supervised by staff and all on a volunteer basis on their part. We also have a board of directors with approximately 15 active board members. We have active advisory councils in each of the counties that we serve. We also just launched a Friends of CASA program. We have been blessed and embraced by our community, legal, judicial community and businesses that have been consistently supporting our work since 2000.
The mission of our agency is to advocate for children who have been removed from their homes due to substantiated child abuse and neglect. We want to make sure that each child stays safe and a top priority in all proceedings relevant to them. We want to lessen their trauma, make sure they receive all available services and help the child and their family in ways that will increase their chances for long term success. We want to help them regain stability in the home and be even stronger than before the incident that led to the child being removed. We want to embrace them with services beyond the typical services currently provided by community partners. The items listed in our project budget are not typical services already being provided to help people rebuild their homes.
It is needed because we all need these basic items for functionable living. Many of these items in our own homes are taken for granted. We have dressers to store our clothes, but many of our families have to find their clothes from piles on the floor. We all have sheets, pillows and dishes in our homes. Many of these families do not. They deserve to have basic items to make their home feel like a home and to function as a home. We realize that we cannot be a continuous support for these items, but as much functionality as they will bring to the family, they will also bring hope and a sense of normalcy that they will hopefully want to continue with their own means.
This implements the purpose of the Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation as much if not more than any other request you will receive because it directly helps people in rural areas by empowering, equipping and encouraging them to live a better life. I have seen families so discouraged that they feel there is no use in even trying because they have drifted so far from normalcy. We want to help them find their footing, and their supplies, to be able to build a better future.
We have identified the need by direct observations while in their homes. It is rare to even see sheets on the beds, pillows, or pillow cases. We have come to expect not to see them than to see them. We have been a part of dumping a child's life into a large black trash bag before. We have smelled the children we serve and knew that they did not have access to the deodorant that our own children have. We have seen the excitement when we take them a bag of art supplies to a facility where they are alone and hours away from home and families. We have seen seen the look of hopelessness on the face of mothers who are getting her children back and while she is happy for them, she feels so overwhelmed knowing she does not have the skills, nor the resources, to give them what they will need. We also know that while there are some community agencies providing assistance and support, no one is giving them these items because they are not "necessities" in the service world. We want to make it necessary for them to have pride, feel hopeful and be encouraged to want and do better.
We have many wonderful community organizations that provide assistance with paying utilities and rent. We have some that will provide school supplies on a limited basis. We have some that will provide clothing, free hair cuts and even an amazing organization that serves hot meals daily. But, to my knowledge, no organization that helps families furnish a home, clean their home, organize their appointments, provide art supplies, books, journals to their children like this project would do. No organization provides travel bags for the kids being taken from their homes in the middle of the night even though we have solicited donations of bags from members of our own community. We want to provide the items that help make the house a home.
We want to show our families a better way to live. When we know better, we do better. We want to help instill a sense of pride and let them experience living in a clean home and the joy that comes from that. We want their kids to have an expressive outlet to help deal with the dysfunction of their lives. We want to help them reunify as a family and start out fresh with items that they, and we all, need to keep up the demands of life. Keeping up a household is hard work and when I think of all the conveniences I am blessed with in my own home, I recognize that is partly why I can effectively manage my own household.
We will provide these items to only families to whom we have been appointed to serve by the Court of jurisdiction. We will then identify an unmet need by direct interaction and observation of the family and confirm that it is a need that 1) can be met by one of the items in the categories funded and 2) that by providing that item it will help improve the quality of their houseshold/life for the family. If they demonstrate progress by complying and meeting their case plan objectives for family reunification and a desire to receive services. We will complete an assessment of need and plan of service for every one that receives items from this project. We will then track all the info such as name, address, phone number and items received in our already existing case tracking software, Optima. We will then have a check out form documenting who delivered it to the child/family, and a survey for the recipient to document receipt and their feedback. All of this documentation will be retained in our tracking system at the CASA office. We will be able to provide to Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation the number of items distributed, number of clients who received items and all receipts for purchases. We will also shop where we can find the most economically efficient deals.
We will evaluate the project at the end of one year and we will also solicit from the community donations to keep this project going. We will call on local churches to also help support this mission of direct service donations.
There will not be any fees at all as all of our children and families will receive any project identified as a need completely free of charge. There will be a requirement that their child has to be appointed to the program by the Judge.
CASA of Northeast Ky has an annual operating budget of 227,000 with 8,000 allocated for fundraising expenses. This is a 3.5% of our annual operating budget.
Administrative costs make up for 67% of our total program budget.
CASA of NEKY has not received any prior grants from the Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation.