As some of you might know, we’ve set a goal of serving all the children who need a CASA by 2020. We’re calling it the 2020 Vision and it can be achieved with your help. We project that there will be 1,100 children and youth—or about 500 cases—in the system. We can make that projection because numbers in Denver have stabilized for the time being. We haven’t seen a huge increase or decrease in the last three years. Everyone seems to think that this is how it will stay and that this is the “new normal” for the system.
Yet what does it mean to serve all the children in need of a CASA in Denver?
First of all, about five years ago, serving all the children in Denver would have been hard, really hard. The transformation and growth of the organization would have required something miraculous. Now it is within our power because the Denver Department of Human Services, along with many other counties in Colorado, are embracing a specific approach to child welfare, known as Differential Response . This approach has really slowed the number of cases being filed in the court. What Differential Response does is allow for many more families to engage with the system on a voluntary basis. While there is some debate about the practice, it is here to stay.
Denver hasn’t officially embraced the practice, but it is definitely moving in that direction. For example, in 2008-2009 FY there were 735 cases filed. For the 2012-2013 FY there were 337 cases filed, a 54 percent drop. For that same year, Denver had the fourth largest number of cases filed. So Denver isn’t the largest judicial district when it comes to filing Dependency and Neglect Cases. The Fourth Judicial District, which has El Paso County, has consistently been the highest. This is important to note because it gives the perspective that the opportunity of serving all the kids in the Denver system isn’t insurmountable.
Our goals, then, are based on this information and what we can accomplish over the next five years. This year we set a goal of serving 440 children and youth. This translates into about 220 cases. We’re proud to say that we reached our mid-year goal for the number of children served. We set out to serve 333 children and youth by this time and we have done that exactly! Congratulations to all the staff and CASA Volunteers who made this happen. It is truly a great accomplishment.
This process of setting goals will only become more important as we continue to strive to serve all the children and youth by 2020. We’re really interested in both your feedback too. Look for more information about this and don’t hesitate to contact us in the meantime!