Ellen's Place

CASA Outdoor Classroom Donation Tracker

Support CASA & Ellen's Place | Special Events





Thursday, November 30, 2023
6 pm - 9 pm at El Toro
1955 South Road Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

CASA & The Outdoor Classroom

Mental Health America of Dutchess County's CASA Program is transforming the North meadow space of Pershing Avenue Farm and Garden, that is part of the Northside Collaborative, into a safe and welcoming place for children and their families.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are professionally-trained, objective community volunteers appointed by Family Court to advocate for children who are in out-of-home placement or who are at risk of being placed in foster care.

CASAs monitor a child’s medical and mental health, educational needs, wellbeing and permanency planning. Key to a CASA’s work is regular visits with the child or children to whom they are assigned. CASA is appointed by Court Order to collaborate with others involved in a child’s case and gather information from all interested persons including parents, foster parents, teachers, case managers, doctors, therapists, attorneys, other service providers and the child. CASA’s provide fact-based reports to assist the court in addressing the needs of and in determining what is in a child’s best interest. Many children assigned to CASA are safely reunified with the parents. In other cases, children and youth are permenantly placed with relatives or are adopted. CASA’s ultimate goal is for children to grow up in permanent, safe, healthy family homes. 

There are many challenges facing children in the welfare system and CASA of Dutchess County is making great strides to advocate for these children, leveling the playing field and giving them much-needed support while working to obtain a permanent home.


Dr. Ellen Lynn Hall

Ellen's Place and Outdoor Classroom is in inspired by the late educator and child rights advocate, Dr. Ellen Lynn Hall.

Hall was the founder of an early learning center in Colorado that's respected worldwide for its innovative approach to education and the author of Seen and Heard: Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education. The child advocate believed that all children have the right to be taken seriously and have their voices heard not only in families but also schools and communities.

MHA CASA at Ellen’s Place and Outdoor Classroom is planning to serve over 300 children and their families by creating a safe and welcoming space that focuses on "fine-tuning the key development skills children need from infant-youth to early adolescence."

CASA is one of the many outstanding programs at MHA where our Advocates are trained volunteers who work alongside other local professionals to provide a non-biased approach towards advancing the wellbeing of the children and families within our community. Our Advocates are sworn in by the Family Court Judges to provide factual reports and attend court proceedings to further their ability to advocate for those we serve. MHA CASA is dedicated to ensuring that the community has access to the support needed to achieve a permanent and loving home for all children and guardians involved. Since the establishment of CASA of Dutchess County, we have bared witness to the adversities our youth face when being involved with the child welfare system. Without the continued support of our generous donors, our program would not have the tools to make the difference we have been for the last 22 years.

Our program has expanded to become part of the North Side Collaborative Coalition for the Pershing Avenue Garden. Our current mission was inspired by the late Dr. Ellen Lynn Hall;

“Ellen Lynn Hall was the founder and Director of Boulder Journey School, (BJS), in Boulder, CO. BJS is an early learning center and master's level teacher program that is respected worldwide for its innovative pedagogy. Ellen's book, 'Seen and Heard: Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education' reflects her view that all children have the right to be heard, and taken seriously, in their families, schools and communities. She was a tireless international advocate for children's rights.” - Dexter Lane 

Our goal is to develop MHA CASA at Ellen’s Place & Outdoor Classroom where we can serve 300+ youth and their families by utilizing the space as a safe and welcoming area that focuses on fine tuning the key development skills children need from infant-youth to early adolescence. We write to you today to share with you some new opportunities for local organizations to get involved. There are many ways you can support our efforts: CASA Wish List: By following the QR Code below, you can view the items our program needs and donate them directly to our program. As a donor*, you will receive recognition on our “donor wall” in the form of a hand crafted “tree cookie” which will be permanently placed at Ellen’s Place on Pershing Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York to display our gratitude for your participation. We thank you very much in advance for your consideration and are looking forward to hear from you soon.


Desiree S. King, Th.M., CASA Director

Ellen's Place | Design

CASA - COLOR[2305843009323779726]

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    253 Mansion Street, Poughkeepsie

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