The mission of Life Stories Child & Family Advocacy is to provide advocacy and support for abused or neglected children by advancing coordinated investigations, prosecution and victim services through the CASA Program, Child Advocacy Center Darkness to Light Prevention Education Workshops.
Life Stories Child & Family Advocacy, formerly A Kid's Place, was founded in 1995 by the Weld County Child Abuse Coalition, in response to the need to improve the identification, representation and services provided to abused and neglected children. Pilot projects were formed as internal programs of United Way while they were evaluated for effectiveness and then developed into separate non-profit agencies. The Child Advocacy Center and CASA programs are both such programs.
The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) was formed in 1995 to reduce trauma to victims of child abuse by providing a multidisciplinary response in a neutral, child-focused environment. CASA , created in 1997, recruits, screens, trains and supervises community volunteers who are independent lay advocates, appointed by judges to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system, and to advocate for timely case resolution. By July 2000, A Kid's Place was an individual 501c3 and the umbrella agency for both the Child Advocacy Center and the CASA Programs. This merger enabled us to provide a continuum of services to the abused and neglected children involved in the criminal and Dependency and Neglect court system in Weld County.
Since 2010, we have had a satellite CAC in south Weld County, to better serve children and families in the quickly growing section of the county. Our message remains the same: child victims of abuse and special needs adults who experience abuse and neglect deserve our attention, advocacy and support.
Since its inception, CASA has grown to more than 100 dedicated volunteers advocating for over 275 abused and neglected children each year. The Child Advocacy Center serves 381 child victims and their 800 non-offending family members each year. Our programs are highly regarded by the court, County Human services, Law Enforcement and the District Attorney's offices in Weld County.
"Being a CASA for these children was an amazing 4 year journey. When one child in a sibling group was adopted, there were those who said that her sister would not have the same outcome. However, I saw something in her even through all the ups and downs of placement and through her struggles with behavior and mental illness. Sure enough, she transformed herself from an angry, displaced child to a warm, kind and loving young lady. It was heartwarming and powerful to see these two young victims not only survive but thrive and have what every child deserves: a forever family." - Sarah, CASA Volunteer
Life Stories was here for the children I have worked with. In one instance a child was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center and was immediately removed from the home. The child came into the system when she was 12 years old and it was thought the abuse had started at age 4. This child went through this by herself until her mother found out and was fully supportive. After I was off the CASA case, this young woman called me at my workplace and wanted to know how she could become a CASA; something she felt very strongly about. May Bunjes, former CASA Volunteer and current Board member.
Many of the children that Life Stories CASA program works with are in a foster or group home environment. For many of these children, they do not have many things that they can call their own. Every time a CASA volunteer opens up a new case they have the ability to go "shopping" for a beautiful, handmade quilt for each of the children in the case. These quilts are generously donated to Life Stories by a group of women, from the First United Methodist Church in Greeley. These women come together every Wednesday to sow quilts for nonprofits and people in need in our community. "It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a bunch of Methodist women to make them lots of blankets. Its a little way to help that we can still do."