VISALIA — CASA of Tulare County has been awarded a $50,000 Recruitment and Awareness grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children. 

Funds will be used to tailor a national public awareness campaign about child abuse and neglect for local markets, and to distribute the campaign. 

There are nearly 950 CASA/GAL programs nationwide, including 45 state offices that recruit, train and support volunteers who advocate in court for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decisions for each child.

National CASA/GAL has developed a broad-based national campaign, “Change a Child’s StoryTM.” It is distinguished from other campaigns in that its messaging is told from the point of view of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The campaign shows the importance to these children of having a volunteer by their side to advocate for their best interests. 

In Tulare County, the campaign will run on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, on billboards, and radio stations. 

Eric Johnson, Executive Director for CASA of Tulare County, said “We requested funds to implement the new Change a Child’s Story branding campaign and to update website and collateral, consistent with the National CASA/GAL new branding campaign. Funds will be used to increase public awareness and drive focused recruitment for underrepresented volunteer populations.”

Populations to be served include Hispanics and rural/underserved communities.

“Through recruitment and awareness activities we will activate a minimum of 30 additional volunteer advocates and serve a minimum of 75 additional children — decreasing the number of children on our waitlist by 35 percent,” Johnson said. “Currently we have over 200 children on the waitlist. This funding will help us bring awareness in communities traditionally not served throughout Tulare County.”

The Change a Child’s StoryTM campaign was developed with R&R Partners, a cause-driven marketing and advocacy agency that has worked on prominent social issues campaigns. R&R Partners conducted focus groups across the country to ensure the campaign would resonate with target audiences while being sensitive to the perceptions of those with experience growing up in foster care. 

The federal grant funds distributed through National CASA/GAL are provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, as authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990. In 2019, National CASA was awarded nearly $10.7 million in federal grants.

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