by Jennifer Whittemore, Board President, Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation

Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation is a local nonprofit that has been around for over 15 years. Many people do not yet know about the organization and others confuse it with the government CASA (court appointed special advocate) program of Yavapai County. There is a distinct difference.

Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation is a fundraising board, and it provides for the unmet needs of children in foster care in Yavapai County through the Prescott courts as well as for youth who are in the voluntary foster care program through the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Those are the kids who age out of the system, but can stay involved in the system and get the support they need if they follow certain rules. The government CASA program trains advocates, and those advocates get involved with a case and help a child through the case. They are so important to a child in foster care that the Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation also supports that program and they work closely together.

Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation has many programs that take place throughout the year. One year-round program is the Grants for Kids program, in which children, caseworkers, CASAs and even attorneys can ask for a grant for an item a foster child might need, but is not covered by the state. Last year, and this year as well, over $30,000 has gone toward this program. Things that are provided include car seats, strollers, bedroom furniture, and camps and family vacations, which some foster children have never been able to experience. Another important initiative is collecting gift cards for kids in out-of-home care to get clothes. Most children are removed with just the clothes on their backs, and foster parents get only $150 a year for clothing for each child. In the case of a kinship placement, which is where a relative or someone who has a relationship with the child takes care of him or her, the caretaker receives less than $50 a month for the child.

We are gearing up for our Holiday Gift Drive to make sure all children in care through the Prescott courts receive a gift at the holidays. Keep your eyes out around the Quad-City area for trees and boxes set up to collect gifts for children in our area in foster care. If you would like to help with this event or any of our other great programs you can contact the Foundation at 928-445-0800 or email . Keep in touch with what the Foundation is up to at and “like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

On a final note as we end the year, remember Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation is a Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organization. Please speak to your accountant on how this works. This is the Foundation’s largest way of receiving funds. We also hold a gala in June and Costumes for Kids 5K Fun Run in October.

And remember, not everyone can be a foster parent, but everyone can help a child in need.