Athens County Child Advocates Program Sees Big Cut In Funding

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A program that works with abused or neglected children who are in the court system has been hit with a dramatic decrease in funding.

Athens County’s Court Appointed Special Advocates has had its funding cut by 30% in back-to-back fiscal years. The program’s grant money went from $230,000 to an expected $77,00 this year.

Juvenile Court Judge Zach Saunders has worked with CASA volunteers in the courtroom often and found this cut disappointing. 

“It breaks my heart. No victim organization should suffer those cuts,” he said. “When we talk about it, it’s detrimental to local communities because that funding, when it trickles down and even in southeast Ohio, we get the bottom of the barrel.”

Jenny Stotts, executive director of the Athens County CASA program, said the cuts could do significant damage to a service that offers great benefits for children.

“Kids tend to stay in substitute care for fewer months than if they don’t have a CASA volunteer. They tend to have more of their educational needs met, and are more likely to pass all their grades at school,” she said. “Here in Athens County, they are more likely to be permanently placed with their siblings. They’re more likely to get more court-ordered services earlier on when a CASA volunteer is there.”

CASA is seeking help from the Athens County Board of Commissioners. Board President Lenny Eliason said he hopes to be able to support the program.

“We’ve always been supportive of it and we think it’s an important program,” he said. “Kids always need help and need advocates in the court. Any organization that advocates for the needs of the child is very helpful.”

Stotts believes the program has the ability to promote positive change through the kids.

“I truly believe in people and their capacity to change the world,” she said. “The world sounds like such a big thing, but the work our CASA’s do, the world can be one person.”