The planning and development of the Friends of the
Court, Inc./CASA of Shelby
began in 1993, using National CASA guidelines. The program was incorporated as a
nonprofit organization in November 1994 and began assigning volunteers in
June of 1995. The program has
grown from a one-time donation of $5,000 with only two volunteers up to a
$100,000 organization with over 75 volunteers and two post graduate level
contract employees with over twenty years
experience each who have served the program for 18 and 5 years
idea of starting a CASA program began when the state started assigning
contract attorneys for all court cases (juvenile and criminal), because
indigent attorney fees were so exorbitant. The restructuring resulted in the Juvenile
having access to only one Guardian Ad Litem. Due to state budget restraints, there
would not be another Guardian Ad Litem in the near future. With Shelby
County being one of
the top ten fastest growing counties in the country, this resulted in the
realization that many children would have no one to advocate on their
behalf. It also set these children
up for further victimization by an oftentimes confusing, frightening
CASA has received funding from the Children’s Trust
Fund of Alabama, the Daniel Foundation, National CASA Association and United
Way of Central Alabama.
What’s most important is the fact
that we are our own largest financial contributor due to the annual
fundraiser we hold. It is a rarity that a non-profit organization to be
their own largest contributor. It speaks to the ability to be self sufficient if government funding cuts occur.
County has trained
volunteers with 25 active and presently handling court cases with a new
training class to be held in the fall. The actual number of children
being served is greater however, as the siblings of children being
served, not subject to court proceedings, also benefit from the efforts
Training sessions are held at least once a year and
recruiting efforts are on going.
CASA of Shelby County has received incredible
corporate, community and media support and continues to grow into the
state’s premier CASA program.
In 2001, CASA of Shelby County’s founder and
District Judge Patricia Smith was named the National CASA Judge of the
Year. That same year, their
two-year $45,100 National CASA Association grant was completed with
outstanding success. When audited by the National CASA Association Shelby
County CASA passed with “flying colors,” as an “outstanding program.”
Since 2004, Judge Jim Kramer has served as Shelby
County’s Juvenile Judge and
CASA of Shelby County continues to be a nonprofit, 501-(C)-3 organization
funded in part by the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, the
Daniel Foundation, a Shelby
County grant, and
we remain our own largest financial contributor.
Public relations efforts have led to an increased
awareness of CASA and our mission to assist abused and neglected children
one case at a time.
of Shelby County is now stronger than ever. Our website is www.casaofshelbycounty.org
and we are using it in hopes of bringing more public awareness of what
CASA is and to recruit more people to become CASA volunteers in order to
meet the needs of the children we serve.