Maryland CASA

CASA of Allegany County

81 Baltimore Street, Suite 606
Cumberland, MD 21502

Phone: (301) 777-1262
Fax: (301) 777-1263
Web: www.casaofalleganycounty.org

What is CASA of Allegany County?

CASA of Allegany County is located in Western Maryland. CASA-AC opened its doors in July 2013, and our first set of CASA volunteers were trained and appointed as Court Appointed Special Advocates in June 2014. The mission of CASA of Allegany County is to ensure that every foster child and youth in Allegany County has a safe and permanent home.

A Message From the Director

Thank you for your interest in CASA of Allegany County. Despite our rural location in Western Maryland, Allegany County has the second highest rate of child abuse and neglect per capita. CASA of Allegany County is committed that every foster child and youth in Allegany County will have a voice…a Court Appointed Special Advocate. As a new agency, we need your help. Please consider giving your time to make our mission a reality for every foster child and youth to have a safe and permanent home.

Misty Raines, Executive Director

What is the need?

  • 77 children are under court protection as a result of abuse and neglect
  • 14 children currently have CASAs
  • More than 60 children in Allegany County are still in need of a Court Appointed Special Advocate

How can you help?

  • Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate
  • Become a Board Member
  • Support us during our annual fundraiser CASA Uncorked!
  • Call our office for a list of donation items currently being accepted
  • If you are unable to become a CASA, donate your time and talent in other capacities

Volunteer Spotlight: Gale VanHouten

Gale VanHouten 4Age: 36

CASA Program Affiliation: CASA of Allegany County 

Community in Which You Reside: Mineral County Wva

Occupation: Full-time student

Time Spent as a CASA:  I started in February of 2015! 

Motivation for Becoming a CASA Volunteer: A year ago I had no idea the CASA program existed, or that there was a need to have such a program. It was not until I heard a story of a 16-year-old girl that had just moved back home out of foster care. An employer was seeking help from a charity community on behalf of the young girl. The employer was concerned because the child and her family were being evicted. The 16 year old was the sole provider for her family. The girl was often going hungry to feed her younger sister. She had no school clothes, supplies, or personal care items. She had only been home from foster care for less than 2 months!

As amazing as this girl was for standing up and taking on the role of provider, I was outraged she was placed into this situation! This should have never happened. Surely, stability was a factor in her returning home? Basic needs met before returning? Where was her voice? Where were her services?  Where was her adult to stand up and say that she deserves a better chance? After scrambling to find all the information and resources I could for this girl to seek help, someone in the community said there was a program, new to the area, that gave these children voices, to stand  up for their best interests and gave them their best chance. Allegany County had a CASA program!

I googled, researched and knew right away that this was something I needed to part of.  Even if I was not able to stand up and help this girl, I was going to help others like her. I do not know her name or her face, but she changed my life and gave me the drive to be the chance for others.

Description of Current Case: Currently my CASA child is 8, and in Kinship care with her Paternal grandmother. I’m currently working with agencies  and other parties to reunify her with her mother and get her out of the foster system and in a stable loving environment.

Activities You and Your CASA Child Like To Do Together: Swimming, dancing, and playing on the playground. My Casa child is very active!

Challenges Facing Today’s Foster Children & Youth: Foster children face more problems than most adults will ever face. They are forced to leave behind everything they’ve ever known, find themselves tossed into a system with lawyers, social workers Foster parents, casa workers, separated from their parents, and sometimes siblings. In these cases the children lose the most. I’ve learned that unless the child is noticeably having issues adjusting, therapy isn’t required. There isn’t even an evaluation where the child is seen by a mental health professional unless there is already an issue that has surfaced. While I do understand that some children do not need mental health treatment, it’s discouraging to learn that unless there are problems seen and talked about by those involved in the case, these children can wait years before getting help with one of the most tremendous losses a child could face. The CASA program has changed the paths of the children they are blessed with working with, but we are only a small, important part of helping these children cope with what the world has dealt them. They need more support, more love, more patience, more hope, and more courage to help them rise above and overcome all of the disadvantages they face, and they need more hands helping them up as they go along this path.