For nearly seven years, children and youth in southeast South Dakota have had a voice in court thanks to a program called Southeast CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates. Southeast CASA currently serves Bon Homme, Clay, and Yankton counties. Yankton Medical Clinic, P.C. supports the services and training offered by CASA and has made a donation of $5,000.
CASA volunteers are trained, screened, and sworn in by the court. There are 21 trained volunteers at this time. Executive director, Sherri Rodgers-Conti, said “We have always had enough volunteers to assign a case, no one has ever been on a waitlist. Cases last an average of 11 months and we’ve maintained enough volunteers to serve 100% of the kids in need and we’re really proud of that.” The donation made by Yankton Medical Clinic, P.C. will help train volunteers and support the services offered by CASA and those that need them.
Southeast CASA began in Yankton County in 2011, Clay County was added in 2015 and Bon Homme County joined in 2016 with Union County being added to the service area by the end of 2018. “We Hope by the end of the year to be serving kids in four counties,” Rodgers-Conti continued, “we’ve grown a lot in 6 ½ years and we are really proud that so many kids have a voice in court.” With the additional county and expected increased cases comes the need for additional support and volunteers to meet the growing need of the program.