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A Court Appointed Special Advocate or CASA is a volunteer assigned by a judge to a case within the dependency and neglect (D&N) system. Children in such cases are the victims of abuse and neglect and are often removed from their homes and families during the process. D&N cases are civil proceedings that aim to find permanency for the child or children involved. CASA volunteers focus on the child or children within a single case. Their responsibilities are outlined with the Children’s Code of the Colorado Revised Statutes. By giving their attention to one case, CASA volunteers develop a depth of understanding and awareness about the children involved, ensuring that important details are brought to the other professionals, such as Case Workers and Guardian ad litems (GALs). Most importantly, CASA volunteers act as the child’s voice throughout the process, making sure that their needs are met, and that their voices are heard. To find your local CASA program and to learn more about the steps to becoming a CASA volunteer, please visit Colorado Casa.
Bridging the Gap (BTG) is a youth success initiative at Mile High United Way. This unique program provides direct service to foster youth who age out of care by helping to bridge the gap between foster care and adult self-sufficiency. Many youth who age out of foster care face homelessness and a lack of resources. New participants are granted an 18 month Section 8 housing voucher from the Family Unification Program, and are assigned to an Independent Living Coordinator. These coordinators are available to support the youth and to assist in utilizing resources and achieving educational and professional goals. BTG offers educational scholarships for youth and it also oversees “individual development accounts” which are matched savings accounts frequently used for housing, education, and transportation costs. BTG offers signature events throughout the year, giving participants the opportunity to educate themselves, to network, to learn skills, and to utilize resources and socialize. Every year BTG hosts a Christmas party where every youth is given a present. For many youth, this is the only holiday festivity they have available. One of the best services that BTG provides is a civic engagement program, which gives former foster youth an opportunity to participate in supporting legislation to reform Colorado’s foster care system. To donate to BTG or to learn more, please visit Mile High United Way, Bridging the Gap