Keeping CASA 

Shannon Cornman

Nevertheless, the Court Appointed Special Advocates organization, which helps abused and neglected children, in March received $50,000 in supplemental dollars from the county budget board.

Of the eight-member panel, Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan cast the sole vote against the funding.

“I am a strong supporter of CASA,” said Maughan. He paused and added, “I have to honor my constitutional obligations on balancing the budget.”

CASA of Oklahoma County became a nonprofit organization in July 2008 to expand services, according to Executive Director Lee Ann Limber. She said the move was never meant to be a full separation from the county, since the organization has enjoyed county support for more than 20 years.

“The county is allowed by statute to provide funding to CASA for programs,” said Limber. “That is the uniqueness of the public-private relationship with the county. We are very appreciative of the county and community support.”

Still, funding from the county, which has typically provided upwards of 10 percent of the CASA budget, has dropped from about $158,000to $50,000 annually. Limber said that hole has not yet been made up through other contributions. The organization has trimmed expenses, but so far has been able to avoid reducing its services to children.

CASA volunteers know a child’s particular case and make recommendations to courts, in addition to being a support — and sometimes the only consistent adult — in that child’s life.

Among CASA’s volunteers is Loren James, who became involved with the organization in 2008. At one point during his volunteer history he was working with three different families and logging 15 hours per month. “The program is terrific,” said James, a father of two. “It makes me happy. You make a difference where you can.”

He recalled one child for whom he advocated. As part of a class project, the youngster made a Father’s Day card for him.

“It melted my heart,” James said. To donate, volunteer or attend a fundraising event, phone Alex Corbitt at 713-6607 or visit oklahomacasa. org.

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