2023 was a year of challenges and successes for SEI Voices for Children!
We hope that your New Year has started out on a positive note! As we jump into 2024 we wanted to take a minute and look back on all the wonderful things that happened in 2023 at SEI Voices for Children.
As an organization our volunteers and staff were hard at work in 2023 actively advocating for abused and neglected children in Ripley County. We served 150 children through 69 cases over the course of the year and have been able to maintain a “waitlist” of 0 children. That means that every child with an open Department of Child Services case in Ripley County was appointed an advocate through our organization. In 2023 our team logged 5,763 hours of casework, making just over 10,000 total contacts with those involved in these cases. These many hours and contacts allowed our organization to provide the Court with important information that aids the Court to make the most informed decision possible. Our role as the eyes and ears of the court in these cases continues to be championed by Judge Ryan King.
We welcomed 6 new CASA volunteers this year who each completed 30 hours of initial training. In addition our team of volunteers and staff completed over 473 hours of continuing training. These training opportunities mean that the children we serve are being provided well-rounded and current advocacy practices.
In addition to increasing our impact on the children we serve, we have also been growing our community outreach. This year we have shared information about our organization and our mission with a number of local school staff, civic groups, community partners and businesses. We are always looking for groups and organizations that are interested in learning more about being a CASA. Please reach out to our Program Coordinator Jocelyn Xenophontos, email@example.com, to schedule a presentation.
Our annual fundraiser, “Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops”, was held in October and was once again a great success! We were so excited to sell-out this year. Through the support of our wonderful sponsors and those that attended we achieved a record breaking night. The funds from this event will be used to directly support the children we serve and our CASA volunteers.
SEI Voices for Children applied for, and was awarded, a grant through the Rising Sun Regional Foundation to design and launch a new website. Our previous website was outdated and left us with a limited ability to make changes. Our new website was completed and launched in December. We encourage you to visit the site, voicesforchildren.net, to learn more about our organization, mission and how you can help. We are so thankful to RSRF for this opportunity and are hopeful about the positive impact it will make on our program.
This holiday season SEI Voices for Children was blessed to receive an avalanche of support for the children we serve. Our partnership with the associates of Batesville, formerly Hillenbrand, once again provided Christmas for every child currently in our program that would otherwise not have received gifts. We are so thankful for this continuing partnership and the hard work of the Batesville associates that organize the logistics of disbursing the wish lists, collecting the gifts and delivering them to our office. We were also completely overwhelmed to be approached by a group of community members that wanted to help organize a holiday party for the children we serve and their current placements. What an event! There were crafts and cookie decorating, games, stocking stuffers, books, handmade blankets, coats, pizza and ice cream! Santa arrived on a firetruck then sat with every child who wished for a picture. The joy on the faces of the children that attended was something we will never forget.
As we look back on all of the successes our program achieved in 2023, we also reflect on why our organization exists. Child abuse and neglect is an everyday occurrence in our communities. Children with an appointed CASA spend less time in the system, receive more services and are less likely to reenter the system in the future. Walking beside these children as they face an incredibly stressful situation, being their voice in the process and reporting back to the Court vital information is a calling filled by our amazing CASA volunteers.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer or supporting our organization please visit our website, voicesforchildren.net, or reach out to our Executive Director, Melissa Herzner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change a child’s story, change a child’s life.