Unveiling CASA’s Brand-New Mission Statement
We are thrilled to share that CASA has a new Mission Statement!
“Empowering community volunteers to connect with and champion children and youth involved in the child welfare system, advocating for equity, resources, stability and permanency.”
Like most nonprofit organizations, CASA revisits our mission statement every few years to revise as necessary. Things change. The needs of the population we serve can change. The societal context can change. Our knowledge base about best practices and effective programming can change, and the way we want to communicate our work to the public can change over time.
After months of engaging internal and external stakeholders, the Board of Directors approved the above language. I want to take the opportunity to share a little bit about the process that got us here. Over the past year and a half, as an organization, we had become increasingly convinced that our previous mission statement was missing the mark. The wording was unclear and risked making CASA sound like a health care organization. But there was also a bigger problem. The mission statement failed to mention volunteers. We crafted the previous language with a focus entirely on the children we serve and the outcomes we pursue. Instead of talking about volunteers in the mission statement, we reflected Volunteerism as a core value of CASA. On one level, it made sense. Of course, it is all about the kids. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do this work. BUT, it’s because of our CASA volunteers. There would be no CASA without our base of over 170 amazing and awe-inspiring volunteers. Volunteers are not just the vehicle by which we happen to serve children. They are integral to the core of our organization. Even if funding was no issue, utilizing only paid staff would produce a distinctly different program and outcomes. There is something inherently special about volunteers. The one-to-one connection that a volunteer forms with a child or youth and the dedication of time and energy with zero compensation makes CASA unique and distinct from most other child-serving organizations. Our mission statement should reflect that.
As 2023 began, the Board of Directors set about the process of revising our mission statement, and we were serious about getting it right this time. We asked a lot of people to give us input, including many of our current volunteers, our staff, the Board and the Governance Committee, the Diversity Committee, and many of our external stakeholders and supporters. But most notably, we asked our Youth Voices Council - our newly launched body of former CASA youth who are using their lived experiences in the child welfare system to help CASA improve our services, trainings, policies and protocols, and messaging about our advocacy work. Two things of note from their input made it directly into the new mission statement. First, connection. They felt connection was one of the most important things about what CASA does and offers to youth. Second, they wanted to be described in different language than we have historically used. They told us the words “abuse and neglect” didn’t resonate with them and didn’t line up with how they view their own experiences. Powerful, challenging feedback that we had to process and grapple with as an organization.
The Governance Committee and the Board worked with all the input we received, including that from the Youth Voices Council, and came up with a newly revised Mission Statement that reflects CASA’s core work. It reflects what CASA is all about. Volunteers. Connect. Champion. Advocate. Equity. Resources. Stability. Permanency. This is who CASA is. This is what CASA does. Everything that we do as an organization above and beyond these pursuits, stems from our core advocacy work that drives us to make change.
Many of you are familiar with our systems change work through our Voices for Children Coalition. Probably, fewer are familiar with the Safer Schools Stronger Neighborhoods coalition, a new project we’re spearheading to address the impacts of community violence on youth in the city of Chester. We’re doing some exciting work on the prevention side to increase stability and well-being for kids before they ever make it to the doors of the child welfare system. After so many years of seeing the same obstacles and roadblocks facing the kids and families served by CASA, I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to try to make changes that will improve the lives of so many kids in our community and hopefully prevent some of the trauma that we see on the back end for kids in our system. All that work is motivated by this Mission Statement. Volunteer advocacy is what we’re about. And it always will be.