In 2008, concerned citizens saw a need to begin the CASA program in Harrison County. The Judge at the time, felt like he was not getting all the information needed and was beginning to see the next generation of parents come into his court. The children from his previous cases were now standing before him with their children.
The Harrison County Youth Court administration and some concerned citizens began the process of implementing the CASA program. A Board was formed and a start-up grant was awarded from National CASA to start the first CASA program in Harrison County, Mississippi. CASA of Harrison County opened its doors on September 3, 2010 and took its first case in January of 2011 under the newly elected Harrison County Youth Court Judge, Margaret Alfonso.
Judge Alfonso stated, “CASAs come from all walks of life and are trained volunteers who advocate on behalf of neglected and abused children. They know that all children long for a safe and loving home. CASAs gather information by talking to those important in the child’s life—parents, relatives, teachers, medical professionals, social workers, etc. and they provide that information to the Court to help the Court make the best possible decisions regarding that child. From January 1, 2015, to February 8, 2016, the Harrison County Youth Court received 5,044 referrals for abuse and neglect of children. CASAs provide vital help and assistance to Youth Court with this burgeoning caseload. CASA Advocates make an incredible difference in the lives of abused and neglected children.”
CASA’s number one (1) priority is to find what is in the best interest of the child. The goal is always try to reunite the children with their parents, but in some cases it’s not possible. When reunification is not possible, a relative placement is sought before a foster home.