CASA for Children, Inc. purchased the old Georgia State Patrol building, which is located off Marietta Highway, from the county for $350,000 in order to move the nonprofit out of the basement in the old county courthouse.
Deidre Hollands, Cherokee CASA executive director, said the building, set to be named the Children’s Haven, will become their own and allow for future growth.
“Since we started in 1993, we’ve always been housed in county offices. As the county staff grew, we moved around from place to place. Since some of the sheriff’s offices had moved out of the old GSP building, we asked about buying it,” Hollands said. “We are so excited about having a place of our own now. Our goal is to have it ready by the end of the year.”
CASA trains and supports community volunteers to be advocates for children currently in the foster system in Cherokee County. The volunteers work with one-on-one with the child for the entire time they are in foster care and speak up for the child during court proceedings, if needed.
Hollands said there are more than 100 children in the system who do not have an advocate. She hopes with the new space, more people will join CASA’s mission to help and support the needs of the foster youth.
Once renovated, the building will give CASA the opportunity provide tutoring and mentoring programs for children, and also to hold supervised visitations.
Hollands said the visitation room will allow siblings who have been separated to see each other, or even give the opportunity for potential adoptive parents to meet with the child.
“The opportunity to purchase the building allows us to create a child-friendly facility where children can access a wide array of programs that increase their safety and improve their social, emotional and education functioning,” Hollands said. “We envision a community where every child impacted by abuse has the opportunities and support they need to fully realize their potential, pursue their dreams and become productive members of our community. The facility will also be used to conduct professional development training for CASA advocates, foster parents and other child welfare professionals.”
Although the labor for the building’s renovations has already been donated, the organization still needs the community’s help to fund or donate construction materials, audio and visual equipment, a security system, playground equipment, paint for walls, furnishings and decorations for interior rooms, as well as donated services for cleaning, landscaping and ongoing maintenance.
Hollands said she also hopes to stock an emergency supply closet for foster parents in need of clothes, diapers and other necessities.
“We will draw upon our rich heritage of engaging community volunteers to provide advocacy, mentoring, tutoring, birthday celebrations and an emergency supply closet in the new facility. I believe that there are very few problems in this world that cannot be resolved with a sense of compassion and ingenuity,” Hollands said.