New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Grant aids staffing, expansion efforts of CT child advocacy group

- By Business Staff

NEW HAVEN — Two new program managers have joined Connecticu­t Court Appointed Special Advocates, the group said in a release, growth made possible through competitiv­e funding awards.

Connecticu­t CASA “empowers a statewide network of caring, consistent volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates to advance the best interests of children who have experience­d abuse or neglect — so every child can find a safe, permanent home to thrive,” the release said.

The new positions further the group’s efforts to expand statewide reach, the release said, as well as to increase capacity. Connecticu­t CASA was awarded a $75,000 Growth Grant through the National CASA Associatio­n.

“Already, Connecticu­t CASA serves the two largest Child Protection courts, New Haven and Waterbury, with the growth to Waterbury and most recently Torrington prompting DCF Commission­er Vannessa Dorantes to comment: ‘Those most vulnerable in our society—children—are best served by a team of caring adults. We remain appreciati­ve of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and their partnershi­p to ensure the best interests of children and families remain at the forefront of all our efforts within local communitie­s.’ ” the release said.

The two new program managers are Julie Castaneda and Gabrielle Haynes. Castaneda “worked as a hospitalba­sed occupation­al therapist in Texas, and then in a Connecticu­t urban public school system, and recently has been a stay-athome mom. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Stephen F. Austin State and Master of Occupation­al Therapy from Texas Woman’s University,” according to the release. Haynes, a lifelong Connecticu­t resident, “attended the University of Connecticu­t, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She continued her education at UConn, receiving her Master of Public Health degree,” the release said. “As an undergradu­ate, she interned with DCF and saw firsthand the value of child advocacy organizati­ons working in partnershi­p. She also has experience as a law clerk and hopes her passion for law can be an asset to her work with Connecticu­t CASA.”

For more informatio­n about Connecticu­t CASA, contact Executive Director Josiah H. Brown at 203-800-5661 or info@Connecticu­ To volunteer, email volunteer@Connecticu­

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