Local organizations receive grants to continue their work with children

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- For more than a decade, Betsy Bautz has volunteered at CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.

“It’s eye opening, very rewarding,” Bautz said.

The organization helps child victims who have been abused or neglected, and are going through the court systems; several of whom are in foster care.

“We know in the past few years, Kansas alone has seen a 33 percent increase in the number of foster care,” CASA Executive Director Amy Boydston said. “We are seeing that locally, here, as well in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.”

Just across state lines in Missouri, Synergy Services’ Youth Center provides programs and resources for children who are homeless.

“Last year in our shelter alone, and our shelter serves 12 to 18-year-olds, we served over 500 young people,” Synergy Youth Services Director Rachel Francis said.

Both CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte counties and Synergy Services received grants from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

“It's truly a huge blessing for us because it truly is a huge need for street outreach services,” Francis said, whose organization received $75,000.

Francis said this will help the organization after it lost a $100,000 from Health and Human Services.

“We've had an HHS street outreach grant since 2003, and we lost it this year,” Francis said. “It was a very competitive process.”

Now with this new grant, Francis said it will help with the youth center’s street outreach services.

“It’s going to help pay for staff, it's going to pay for those community case managers that go out in the community, that meet young people where they are and connect them with services,” Francis said.

For CASA, which received a $68,580 grant, the money will help recruit, train and support more volunteer advocates, so children can have someone by their side advocating for them.

“When I started I felt like, if I had one child that could break the cycle they're in, then that would be a success,” Bautz said.

Boydston said there is high demand for volunteer advocates, with roughly 150 children are on the waiting list.

To learn more information about being a volunteer advocate, click here.

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