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NORTHAMPTON — Franklin-Hampshire CASA has been awarded a $31,000 needs-based grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem Assoc. for Children (CASA/GAL).

Franklin-Hampshire CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers who advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The national CASA/GAL needs-based grants are designed to help sustain the capacity of local programs to recruit, screen, train, supervise, and retain CASA/GAL volunteers while maintaining quality advocacy and supporting initiatives to increase the number of children served. The $31,000 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 950 state CASA/GAL organizations and local CASA/GAL programs operating in 49 states (all but North Dakota) and the District of Columbia.

Friends of Children was formed as a nonprofit child-advocate organization in 1990 to address the needs of high-risk children who are not readily supported by systems designed to protect them and encourage their full participation in society. Friends of Children has provided child-advocacy services to more than 15,000 children, 99% of whom are low-income.

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