Category Archives: Newsletter | January 2018

Annual DCFS Report Card

Each year, the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Children and Family Services produces an annual report card. The document provides a statewide report on child maltreatment, foster care, and adoption. This report card is available to the public (click here for the link). We strongly advise all parties who are passionate about child abuse to learn more about what is happening in our state and communities.

While there have been improvements in foster care during this reporting period (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), we were most disappointed to see an increase in the number of children in care in our region (Area 1) compared to last year. With 1,001 children in care, our area reported a 9% increase in children in care for the year. That makes our job at CASA that much harder to grow to meet the needs of our community. Our staff and board continue to make adjustments to our plan to serve every child in need by 2020. With your continued support, we know we will get there.

Christmas for a Child 2017

Each year, CASA of Northwest Arkansas works hard to bring holiday cheer to our children in care.

With the help of Fast Lane Entertainment, local foster children and their families and group homes are treated to a remarkable day of bowling, pizza, laser tag, and more! Thanks to our friends at Unilever, Santa makes a special appearance and provides wonderful conversation and a special stocking to every child.

Beyond the holiday party, CASA also coordinates the sponsorship of holiday wish lists for children in foster care in Northwest Arkansas. This year, we gathered wish lists for 515 children in care from our region. We then coordinate donors to sponsor each wish list – shopping for the gifts and returning them to CASA. Can you imagine?  It takes hundreds of individuals, civic organizations, companies, and churches to sponsor all of these wish lists. Volunteers then bag, organize, and distribute the gifts.

This is the CASA garage with gifts for 515 children and again after all of those gifts have been distributed. This undertaking simply would not be possible without the generous support of our entire community.

The foster parents caring for these special children were stunned by the generosity. Here are just a few comments we heard from them:

“This is our first year to be foster parents and participate in the CASA Christmas, and we were completely humbled by the generosity!”

“The holiday gifts are beyond our wildest imagination again this year.” 

“SUCH a tremendous blessing you all are!!! Thank you to the many generous donors!”

We want to thank all who played a role in putting smiles on these children’s faces when they woke up Christmas morning. Because of you all, for just a moment, those children could forget that they are a child in foster care.

If you would like to sponsor a child for Christmas next year, please contact Shelley Hart (shelley@nwacasa.org). For planning purposes, please anticipate that it will cost ~$150 to fulfill one wish list.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kemetric Bailey

Kemetric Bailey joined our corps of nearly 300 volunteers in April 2017. When she moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2010, she began looking for a way to use her passion for children and individuals in crisis to make an impact. After hearing about CASA from a presentation at the Walmart home office, she felt the calling.  As a victim of childhood abuse, Kemetric knew she had the understanding and compassion these children needed to begin to heal.

Kathy and Kemetric, quite a CASA pair!

Most rookies take “an easier case” – one with a single child or rather straightforward circumstances. Interestingly, her supervisor knew Kemetric wasn’t like most rookies and presented her with a rather unusual request. If they paired her up with a seasoned advocate, would Kemetric consider a case with 7 siblings? While it sounded daunting, Kemetric understood that if she didn’t agree to take the case, there was no telling how long these children would be on the waitlist for a CASA. And just like that, Kemetric was paired with a wonderful advocate, Kathy Redding. They work together beautifully, sharing the good times and the bad, to advocate for the best interests of these children.

Working full-time and having her own family, how is it that Kemetric finds the time to serve? By pairing with another advocate, Kemetric says it is absolutely doable, “There are twenty-four hours in a day. We don’t use them all, and five minutes on social media can easily turn into an hour or two. Instead, why not use that time toward a cause where you can really make a difference?”

Kemetric finds her CASA work extremely rewarding, but admits it’s not always easy to serve. Beyond the time commitment, how do you answer a 12 year-old who asks if they will ever be adopted?  Or if he will see his younger siblings again?  While emotionally taxing, that’s where you can really leave your mark.  “I tell ‘Peter’ every time I see him that regardless of his current circumstances, he can become much more than that,” shares Kemetric. “It’s incredibly rewarding and humbling to help these children see the positive in their challenging lives.”

To learn if you might be a good fit as an advocate, click here.

Light of Hope 2017

Light of Hope is a national movement to light a symbol of hope for abused and neglected children who are under the jurisdiction of the nation’s family court systems. CASA of Northwest Arkansas hosted its 10th annual Light of Hope presented by General Mills on November 9, 2017. With reservations for 780 guests at the Rogers breakfast and 550 for the Springdale luncheon, we shared our mission with a record-breaking crowd.

Ashley Buchanan, Sam’s Club

Both events began with a 20th anniversary tribute recognizing our founding board members and their commitment to bringing child advocacy to Northwest Arkansas. Breakfast continued with a keynote address from Sam’s Club’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Ashley Buchanan, while lunch featured Sally Grimes, Group President of Tyson Foods.


Sally Grimes, Tyson Foods

Our emcees, Geno Bell, Sr. Director for Walmart, and Dr. Charles Robinson, Vice Chancellor at the University of Arkansas, then introduced our testimonial speakers, Dylan and Shaneace Gard. The Gards, who adopted their four boys out of foster care, shared firsthand how their boys’ CASA volunteers, Diana and Andi, played a critical role in securing their children’s safety and long-term success.

The Gard Family

Net proceeds for the entire event tallied more than $300,000! This was record-breaking for our organization. These funds will sponsor advocates for 252 abused and neglected children for an entire year. There was also an outpouring of interest from attendees – 105 individuals – to train and become advocates for these children.

There are many individuals and companies to thank for making this event such a success. First of all, we thank our sponsors who allow our event, and this impact, to take place. Next, we appreciate our 12 person committee and 125 table captains who worked countless hours to ensure our tables were filled with compassionate hearts and giving hands. And, lastly, we appreciate all of our guests who took time out of their schedules to learn how they could make a difference in the life of a child.

  • Presenting sponsor: General Mills
  • Benefactor sponsors: The Clorox Company, Coca-Cola, Sam’s Club, and Tyson
  • Advocate sponsors: Mercy, Rockfish, and Truity Credit Union
  • Patron sponsors: Arvest, Bedford Camera & Video, Cargill, Charles Schwab, Cherokee Casino & Hotel, EY, Jim and Melissa Cole, J.B. Hunt Transport Employee Contributions, Lucke Dental, Matthews Campbell Roads McClure & Thompson P.A., Mitchell Communications, Mitchell Williams, Northwest Orthodontics, Paschal, and Unilever.

2017 Light of Hope Committee:  Britt Clem, Susan Duke, Ted Fox, Treva Hamilton, Wayne Hamilton, James Keenan, Kim Lane, Lisa Mayer, Ed Parrish, Guanica Parrish, Mike Schmandt, and Laura Underwood.