Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) hosted a large crowd as it celebrated its second annual Adoption Day on Thursday, Jan. 30 in the Grayson County Judicial Center.
CASA, a national organization that focuses on finding permanent homes for children who have been placed into foster care, has played a major role in reducing the number of Grayson County children currently in the custody of the state, according to Grayson County District Judge Shan Embry.
Adoption Day serves as an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the strides made over the past year in this effort, said Embry, who co-hosted the 2014 event with fellow GC District Judge Harold Goff.
While the event is called Adoption Day, CASA Executive Director Erica Simpson, who organized the 2014 event, said, “It’s really more of a ‘Permanency Day.’”
Many children have been adopted, but many have been placed in permanent homes with their immediate families or relatives, as well, said Simpson.
Embry said that in 2010, Grayson County had the “dubious” distinction of being the number one county in the state in regards to having children in foster care.
Thanks to the efforts of CASA and improvements made to the court system, among other factors, Grayson County is ranked 24th, as of Dec., 2013, Embry said.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Simpson.
Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy and CASA Board Member Bryan Hammons, who attended Thursday’s event, said the success of the county in finding permanent homes for children is “a great thing.”
“It’s something that puts children in a normal, everyday environment where they can be focused on by their family or adoptive family,” said Hammons.
Embry said while 24th is a great improvement, it is not a stopping point, and she hopes that through the continued efforts of the Model Court Initiative, a statewide organization of judges working to improve the court system, and CASA, Grayson County will continue to improve in this regard.
CASA, Embry said, is a valuable asset because it has the ability to take a more in-depth review of the children’s home and family life to aid the judges in finding a suitable permanent home for them.
CASA may also review numerous child custody cases at a time, whereas the courts may only review one case at a time.
Simpson described CASA’s method of handling child custody cases as “more proactive than reactive.”
“CASA has an office in the [Judicial Center], and we can make more contact with families,” Simpson said.
CASA is currently expanding into Breckinridge County and Meade County, as well. For more information on the organization, visit www.casanetworkky.com.