Alcovy Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization that always keeps one mission in mind — Change a child’s story.
In fact, when you access the organization’s website, that mantra is displayed in the top left of the screen. The mission statement further explains the meaning behind that.
“Alcovy CASA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in foster care in Newton and Walton counties,” the statement reads. “By advocating for children who have experienced abuse or neglect, our volunteers amplify each child’s voice and help change a child’s story.”
The organization has Sharon Gustafson as its Newton County advocacy coordinator, Kathy Suber as the Walton County advocacy coordinator and Melanie Mainor being the advocate trainer.
Lindsay Dycus serves as Alcovy CASA’s executive director, too, and explained how special it is to work for such a cause.
“CASA volunteers are not people that are social workers, and they are not folks that have a background in child welfare,” executive director Lindsay Dycus said. “That is the beautiful thing about being a CASA because people are coming in here with no knowledge.”
A plethora of volunteers assist with Alcovy CASA’s mission throughout the year, too.
In addition to the support of the team and volunteers, Dycus highlighted the support from the court system in Newton County as someone to thank for what makes the county different and unique from other counties.
“We have a community that really does work together in the social work field,” Dycus said. “And usually that isn’t the case where everybody in the courts, our CASA, DFACs, the lawyers etc., is involved in caring for the children in the county.”
The future of the Alcovy CASA is something that director Dycus wants to see grow sooner rather than later. And a visitation center may be the key to progressing the future of Alcovy CASA.
Dycus stressed that children and parents who experience constant visitation while the child is in foster care are significantly more likely to have a better experience and to get more service while in foster care. And they are more likely to be united than the ones who do not get constant visitation.
“We are looking to provide another service by providing a visitation center, where it offers a child friendly room. We can offer authorized visitation between the children that are in foster care and their biological parents,” Dycus said. “It would be a setting where it is a home setting. And visitation keeps parents engaged when it feels hopeless.”
Alcovy CASA served 120 children in 2022, while having 50 community volunteers. Currently, there are about 300 children in care.and 62 children through the months of April through June with 41 active volunteers.
Alcovy CASA was recently recognized for their efforts as well. It won the Georgia CASA Innovative Affiliate Award for the ‘I Am CASA, Ask Me Why’ campaign. Dycus was also one of four elected to the Georgia CASA Board of Directors in early 2023.
To get involved in the Alcovy CASA is very simple, which only requires to visit alcovycasa.org and gather information on how to get involved. There are ways to donate on the website as well.
“It is really rewarding to serve the 120 children and each of those 120 children are served by a volunteer,” Dycus said. “It is a devoted and caring adult for a one on one with that child. The amazing thing about that child is that the volunteer stays with that child from start to finish.”