Check back on this page for news from our organization and stories about the impact CASA Volunteers are making in our community.



Foster Care Month: Advocating for Change

May is Foster Care Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the experiences of children in foster care and the urgent need for support and advocacy. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Douglas County proudly aligns with the Children's Bureau's campaign, "Engaging Youth, Building Supports," striving to enhance opportunities for children and families within the foster care system. This year's theme underscores the critical necessity for a child welfare system that genuinely engages and supports young people as they transition out of foster care. 

An Overwhelmed System  

In 2023, according to Voices for Children in Nebraska, 4,093 children were in out of home or trial home visit placements under various agencies oversight, which represents a slight 2.4% decrease from the previous year. While it is promising that we can start to see a decrease in this number, it is concerning that the report continues to show that disproportionate rates persist for children of color. In Douglas County alone, 1,584 children were involved in out-of-home care or trial home visits at the end of 2023, spending an average of 465 days (about 1 and a half years) in such placements. This highlights the need for ongoing efforts to prevent unnecessary removals and prioritize stable, supportive placements. 

Throughout the country, approximately 20,000 youth age out of foster care annually without a permanency plan. Each of them represents a unique story, dream, and hope for belonging. Moreover, per the Kids Count Nebraska 2023 report, 120-124 youth were in out-of-home care upon reaching their 19th birthday. For these youth, a robust support system during the transition out of the system is crucial. Additionally, a high volume of case worker turnover is a persistent challenge in the child welfare system, often leading to disruptions for children and families. The assignment of each new case worker can delay a case by about six months, highlighting the critical need for stability and continuity in our advocacy. This high turnover rate among case professionals can profoundly affect how a youth transitions out of the system.  

Incorporating culture and compassion to help build a better future 

At CASA for Douglas County, we advocate for practices that prioritize the well-being of children and families in the foster care system. Therefore, we request a minimum two-year commitment from our Volunteer Advocates. This commitment ensures stability and continuity for the children we serve, allowing them to build trusting relationships and navigate the system's complexities with consistent support. 

“Child welfare professionals are uniquely positioned to connect families with tailored, equitable resources that fit their individual needs,” says Kimberly C. Barnes, Executive Director at CASA for Douglas County.  “Diverse families encompass many groups, including families of color and LGBTQIA2S+ families. Every family has its own unique challenges, strengths, and needs. Diverse identities are part of what makes each family different. Representation is paramount to serving all children with equitable resources.” 

Every child deserves to have their voice heard and their best interests prioritized at every stage of their journey. These children need advocates who can understand their experiences and amplify their voices to ensure they receive the best possible care and support. To address this concern, CASA for Douglas County is collaborating with key organizations and leaders in our community to encourage more diverse individuals to become advocates. By amplifying the voices of children and advocating for their best interest, CASAs strive to create a brighter future for every child in our community. 

During National Foster Care Month and beyond, let us unite to support and empower children in foster care, ensuring that every child can thrive and succeed. Join us in our mission to create a better future for children in Douglas County and beyond, by raising awareness and working to ensure every child has a loving home and a support system to help them succeed.