Cincinnati-based ProKids recruits, trains and supports community volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to speak for children in foster care, many of whom have been abused and neglected, to help them grow up safe and secure and prepare them for a better future.
A caring adult in their corner
A third of foster children will be in protective care for more than two years, and most will move at least one time every year they remain in care. With each move to a new foster home, it is estimated children lose between three to six months of academic progress. Of children in foster care, only 63 percent graduate from high school by age 18 and less than 10 percent earn a college degree.
A dedicated, caring advocate makes a difference, as children assigned to a CASA volunteer often spend less time in long-term foster care and move less often.
“Our trained CASA volunteers provide consistency, guidance, and care to the children we serve. They can connect all the pieces in a child’s life and help get them into a safe environment where they can grow and thrive.”
– Erika Jones, community relationship manager for ProKids
Court hearings are a regular occurrence for children in foster care, and it’s during these hearings that important decisions regarding a child’s future, including their educational and medical needs, visits with their family, and where they will live, are made. Their CASA volunteer is there to protect their interests and be their voice.
“Children in foster care live with constant change and uncertainty,” said Erika Jones, community relationship manager for ProKids. “Our trained CASA volunteers provide consistency, guidance, and care to the children we serve. They can connect all the pieces in a child’s life and help get them into a safe environment where they can grow and thrive.”
Moving forward from foster care
Turning 18 and transitioning out of foster care is often a frightening and challenging experience, as many teens find themselves without money, a home or support. ProKids’ Launch Program provides specialized CASA volunteer training to address the critical need to prepare children ages 14 to 18 for the adult world.
Launch Advocacy Teams help these teens graduate from high school or earn their GED, prepare for secondary education, obtain employment, and secure housing. CASA volunteers also teach them valuable life skills, such as how to budget and manage finances, cook for themselves, and care for their health, as well as how to set goals, make good decisions, and handle conflict.
Empowering positive outcomes
Impressed with ProKids’ successful track record for improving the lives and potential of children in foster care, CAI Insurance designated the nonprofit as its agency charity focus for 2022 to 2025.
“When people find themselves in a challenging position, we provide them a way forward and get them to a better place. We believe their mission is the perfect match for our agency.”
– Mike Schlotman, president of CAI Insurance
CAI Insurance donates money regularly to ProKids, and agency staff, who are provided paid time off to volunteer, are active in fundraising events, including the annual Friends of Children Breakfast. The agency also encourages its clients to support the organization.
“ProKids’ approach to mentoring is very similar to what we do in our business,” said Mike Schlotman, president of CAI Insurance. “When people find themselves in a challenging position, we provide them a way forward and get them to a better place. We believe their mission is the perfect match for our agency.”
Thanks to the support of businesses like CAI Insurance, ProKids trained a record-breaking 323 CASA volunteers and advocated for more than 1,200 children in the greater Cincinnati area in 2022.
With a Make More Happen Award from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance, ProKids can provide 30 teens with Launch Advocacy Teams to help them successfully and safely transition from foster care to adulthood.