Last week, National CASA teamed up with DC metro area programs and state organizations – CASA of DC, CASA of Prince George’s County, Maryland CASA, and Virginia CASA – to hold a briefing in the Capitol to educate Congressional staff about the CASA/GAL program.
The Hill briefing was hosted by both the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, and the House of Representatives’ Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, which provide national leadership and attention in Congress to issues impacting abused and neglected children. The caucuses were eager to help us collectively educate congressional staff about the CASA/GAL program.
It was standing room only for the briefing attended by congressional staffers and child welfare & judicial partners, and held in the U.S. Capitol. Compelling CASA stories were delivered by a panel which included:
- – Prince George’s County program director, Ann Marie Foley Binsner, and lead volunteer supervisor, Sarah Bosken, who talked about operating a program, including the recruitment and extensive training of volunteers, and examples of challenging cases and the impact of CASA volunteers on children and the court.
- – Two former foster youth told their stories, and how their lives were changed because of CASA volunteers from Virginia and Maryland.
- – DC CASA volunteer Lindsay Stearns, a Georgetown Law student, talked about building trust with her child, as a new CASA volunteer.
- – DC CASA Senior Manager, Allison Kahn, talked about their work with older youth.
National CASA Association staff Sally Erny gave the national overview, and Cynthia Smith moderated. Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) gave remarks at the briefing. She has been a tremendous supporting of CASA/GAL programs and our federal funding campaign, including leading the Dear Colleague letter campaign in the House on full funding for the CASA program for FY 2016.
Also appearing to show support and give remarks was Representative Diane Black (R-TN-6), who spoke of her involvement in CASA even before she was elected to Congress.
Senator Grassley (R-IA) chairs the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, but was chairing a Judiciary Committee hearing and not able to attend the briefing. He invited the panel to come to his hearing room after the briefing, where he greeted the group and took photographs.
Other Congressional support for the briefing included Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who is co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.
The Congressional Briefing was a great demonstration of the ways National CASA is engaging Congress, our network, and our communities, towards ensuring that every abused or neglected child in need has a caring, consistent adult to advocate for his or her well-being.
There was also a great deal of Twitter action, including sharing of a press release and photos from Senator Grassley’s office. Check out National CASA’s feed on Twitter