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Portraits of Caring in Portland
Photographer Lars Topelmann launches a portait series about the compassionate court-appointed advocates of abused and neglected children.
When a child who has been abused and neglected is going through the court system, CASA advocates work to guide them safely, quickly and effectively. CASAs - as the advocates are called - are in a unique position to work in the system without being of the system. They have permission to visit the children regularly, talk to a child’s parents, teachers, caseworkers, doctors and therapists in order to hear all perspectives and give an unbiased portrayal of the case to the judge.
Topelmann shot on location at a Portland courthouse. Sandstrom Partners created the rebranding campaign. To visually communicate the CASA mission and encourage volunteerism and donor participation, the images are not only posted on the website, but are part of the organization's annual report.
"CASA needed to clearly define who they are and to really connect with our community. To be able to have a visual that accurately portrays their program with authenticity and emotion was going to be a huge challenge. Lars captured the power of CASA and portrayed the volunteers and children in such a beautiful light," said Robin Olson of Sandstrom Partners. Staci Sigala of CASA added, "CASA will be forever grateful for Lars' dedication and passion to the children we serve. He has left his mark on an organization for years to come."
CASA's website lists the powerful effect an advocate has on a child in protective services. Children without an advocate can move from foster home to foster home an average of 6.6 times. With a CASA, an average 3.9 moves reduces trauma and instability. On average children with a CASA can spend 15 months in foster care versus 24 months without an advocate. The program has aggressive goals for growth and just this past year has added 354 children and now advocates on behalf of over 920 abused or neglected children in Mulhtnomah and Washington Counties, serving Oregon's largest group of children in the protective custody of the court.