CASA shows off new office space at Chamber breakfast

Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The second floor of the Community Trust Bank location on Main Street was filled beyond capacity on the morning of Wednesday, April 17. 

While previous occasions have called for talks about finances and more, this occasion was a bit different. 

At the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce breakfast, CASA of Madison and Clark Counties celebrated getting its new office space on the second floor of the location as well as inclusion into the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce. 

Email newsletter signup

“We are so overwhelmed and we’re really excited to have a physical presence here,” said Victoria Benge, Executive Director of CASA of Madison and Clark Counties. “We’ve been here since February of 2020 serving kids, but [are] just overwhelmed [by] the support that we had this morning.” 

CASA is an acronym standing for Court-Appointed Special advocates. 

According to the official website of CASA of Madison and Clark Counties, the organization “advocates for a safe, permanent and nurturing home for abused, neglected and dependent children as assigned within the court system.” 

Volunteers who work with CASA spend about five to hours per month with a student they’re paired with. 

When volunteering, individuals – if necessary – are able to avoid certain criteria when being paired with particular students. 

Thus, someone who might be more uncomfortable working with a student who might have encountered certain types of abuses can be put at ease. 

As stated, students with CASA volunteers have benefited positively, with a higher likelihood of performing better at school, an increased likelihood of finding safe and permanent placement during the foster care system, a higher probability of receiving necessary services, and being uplifted by having a consistent person in their life. 

“Our whole goal is to really just get to know these kids because they have constant change in their lives. On average, in Kentucky, [some] kids are going to spend 22 months in foster care and in that 22 months, they’re going to have seven different foster homes,” said Benge. “If they have a CASA volunteer, that is just one person that sticks by them through all the changes.” 

While many support CASA, there is always room for improvement. 

Though CASA currently serves 67 Clark County students, there were over 200 substantiated cases last year. 

“We’re serving about 20% of the kids in Clark County and that is just because we do not have enough volunteers,” Benge said. “We just need more advocates that really care about these [kids].” 

For those who wish to volunteer, training will be provided. 

In addition to CASA getting a new office space and being made a Chamber member, April’s meeting coincided with Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed – a former elementary school teacher – proclaiming April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. 

“It really weighs on my heart,” Reed said, noting that other actions the City has taken to address child care includes implementing Safe Haven Baby Boxes. “We acknowledge that we must make every effort needed to increase awareness.” 

With a growing presence in Winchester, CASA of Madison and Clark County hopes to continue building on previous successes. 

The business is located at 120 South Main Street Floor 2. 

Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday. 

For more information, call 859-353-8608.