NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Franklin-Hampshire CASA has been given a $31,000 Needs-Based Grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children.

The Franklin-Hampshire Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) helps recruit, train, and support volunteers who advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect, according to a news release sent to 22News from Friends of Children. The National CASA/GAL Needs-Based Grants help to sustain the capacity of local programs and CASA/GAL volunteers while maintaining advocacy and helping support initiatives to increase the number of children that are served.

Friends of Children has provided child advocacy services to well over 15,000 children. Their mission has defined the work of the agency as they address the needs of high-risk children who are not supported by systems that are designed to protect them and encourage their full participation in society.

The grant will enable Franklin-Hampshire CASA to focus on sustaining service to qualifying children in Franklin and Hampshire counties.

“This funding will allow us to continue providing integral support for the children in our CASA program and to continue to bring quality level training to our current and future volunteers,” said Debi Belkin, Director of Programs at Friends of Children.

There are approximately 950 state CASA/GAL organizations and local CASA/GAL programs that are operating in 49 states, all but North Dakota, and the District of Columbia. The grant funds that are distributed through National CASA/GAL are from the Office of Juvenile.