2019 Annual Report

ProKids 2019 Annual Report

The ProKids Annual Report to Our Community demonstrates how the lives of the children we serve have been changed thanks to the efforts of our staff, our CASA Volunteers and our committed community.


ProKids was proud to serve 1,009 children with a record-breaking 310 CASA Volunteers.

Ways you can help ProKids

Giving Time

When you are a ProKids CASA Volunteer, you can make all the difference in a child’s life in just 10 hours a month. You become an expert on the child you serve and make sure they have everything they need to thrive as you guide them to a safe, permanent and nurturing home.

Giving a Financial Gift

Your financial support enables ProKids staff and volunteers to speak up for abused and neglected children in Hamilton County. You can give directly here, as well as learn about other ways to give including community giving programs and planned giving.

This year, as we publish our Report to our Community, we realize that little is routine or customary

This 2019 Report, then, includes what we celebrate from last year: the incredible number of children we served, the record-breaking number of CASA Volunteers who advocated for our community’s abused and neglected children, the heartfelt work of those we recognized with awards and the significant gifts which enable us to do our work.

But it also goes beyond to ask you to join us for what’s ahead. It’s going to be a challenge. And we’ve been preparing to serve more children in creative ways.

    • Through new marketing efforts we are drawing more needed volunteers to our introductory Snapshot sessions, which are now
    • We are training and supporting our CASA Volunteers with online tools that we quickly implemented when our in-person, high-touch model needed to be adapted.
    • We are energized about our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts – which became more formalized five years ago – and are engaged in ongoing community conversations and finalizing a new, more ambitious plan which will launch this summer.
    • And, as I write this, we are working on ways to engage our supporters safely – not in crowded rooms – so that they know our story and feel moved to support this powerful work we do together.

Through it all, we’ve been focused on the needs of our children.

How can they see their parents safely, when reunification is planned?

How can we move forward in court? With therapy? With medical care and treatment?

When school moved online, how could we best advocate for our children to get what they needed?

How could our volunteers make sure that these vulnerable kids were not, yet again, getting left behind?

How can we ensure all our children are safe in their homes and the community?

But at ProKids, we never face these questions alone. When we needed masks for kids, volunteers and staff, community volunteers made them. When we needed to figure out how the child protection system and court would work, we were able to join key partners at the table to collaborate on short and longer term plans – albeit on Zoom. When we faced our 2020 fundraiser being canceled for May, donors kept honoring their pledges and are sharing our urgent call for support.

We have not been shy about sharing our concerns about what’s ahead for our children.

We published this in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and have followed up through social media with some of the articles and information you’ll see below.

I’m hoping that with this 2019 Report to the Community you’ll certainly see what we accomplished last year. We’re proud of this work. But more than that, I’m hoping you will see it as proof that with nearly 40 years of history in our community, ProKids has a deep understanding of the challenges ahead and our community’s ability to make sure our children do not suffer lasting damage and have opportunities to thrive.

Thank you for the support you have given to us, the trust you have in us while the world is so uncertain, and your investment in ProKids for our children’s and community’s future.

–Tracy Cook

ProKids Executive Director

What the Experts Tell Us

In general, kids will be at risk — even as the health risks ease — because of economic turmoil

From Bob McMahon – ProKids Board President:

As ProKids was tabulating the outstanding 2019 numbers you will see in these pages, the reality of 2020 was dawning — but not too daunting for the ProKids community. We had served 1,009 children with a record-setting 310 CASA Volunteers, more than we expected, and helped keep 99% of them free from abuse and neglect.

But a storm was gathering on the horizon. A storm that was casting an even longer shadow of trauma on the lives of the children ProKids serves.

Alongside everyone else in our community, abused and neglected children were directly affected by the pandemic and related economic destruction. They became isolated in the places they called home. Were they all safe? We had more questions than answers.

As I looked at the outcomes from the preceding year, I knew one thing: with ProKids, our community’s most vulnerable children would have the advocacy they needed to protect them. ProKids is uniquely positioned for this moment because ProKids has been doing this work since 1981. There has certainly never been a year quite like 2020. There have been economic downturns. Despair. Upheaval. Through it all, ProKids has been there for abused and neglected children who have no one in their corner, just as it will continue doing for years to come.

Why ProKids? Why Now?

Tom Cuni, ProKids Board Member and volunteer attorney

2019 ProKids Merilee Turner Volunteer of the Year

“Recent events may have made the plight of our children more apparent, but unfortunately there is a long history of disruption in the lives of the children in our community. When this happens, children find themselves in a large and complex system. When they meet a ProKids CASA Volunteer, these children find a caring individual who gets to know and understand them. And because these dedicated volunteers are trained and supported by ProKids, they know how to advocate for these children and make a difference. We will need more of these kinds of volunteers in the months ahead.” Read more about Tom’s story here.

Quatez Scott, Ph.D. Student

2019 ProKids Community Builder of the Year

“Speaking from my personal experience of having a CASA Volunteer, it was great to have someone who became a familiar face spend quality time with me. Whether it was getting outside and taking a walk or simply talking about my day, having someone volunteer their time and genuinely express concern for my wellbeing helped me through a lot of difficult times. Sometimes, that can make all the difference in the life of a child and their outlook on life. Right now is a great time for people to get involved in ways that can directly impact the lives of children and families in Cincinnati.” Read more about Quatez’s story here.

T.D. Hughes, ProKids Board President Emeritus

2019 ProKids Community Builder of the Year

“Stepping up and supporting ProKids can create a significantly better time and place for our children because it gives our community an opportunity to break the cycle of abuse and neglect for thousands of children so they can have the life they were meant to live. ProKids does this by creating a foundational safety net that protects these children from literally falling into a black hole that no one even knows exists. We know that many children are facing ugly circumstances today and will face ugly circumstances tomorrow. And we know that ProKids can help these children if ProKids has your help.” You can read T.D.’s story here.

Jill Baker Braun, CASA Volunteer

2019 Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year

“When a child is taken into foster care because of abuse and neglect, there is inherent trauma. They need to have someone on their side. The CASA Volunteer has no sides except one: the child’s side. As CASA Volunteers, we learn to support these children in a professional and unconditionally loving way. We help ensure that these children won’t fall through the cracks. As the numbers of children and cases continue to rise, ProKids will need many more people to step up and take a stand for these kids, because they are the most vulnerable in our community.” Read more of Jill’s story here.

Mary Anne Bressler, CASA Volunteer

2019 Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year

“Right now, with so much going on in our world, so many people are struggling. We make sure that children who live in crisis are protected, nurtured and cared for. CASA Volunteers are able to work in a complicated system and to help find solutions to complex problems, not because of our professional backgrounds (of which we represent many) but because of our care for the children in our community and our passion for a community in which every child is safe. The training we receive and the support of the ProKids staff enables us to make a difference. As we continue through this most extraordinarily difficult time, CASA Volunteers can help the children of our community weather their own storms in the midst of this time of tumult.” Read more about Mary Anne’s story here.

Karen Gerrety, CASA Volunteer

2019 Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year

“A child in trauma may be moved from one school to another and one foster family to another, but the CASA Volunteer is a constant in the child’s life, focused on the needs of the child. Because our caseload is small, often just one child or a group of siblings, we are better able to get to know the child and their caregivers, we are better able to learn about problems the child is facing and advocate for interventions. It’s important for members of the community to step forward and be the bridge between trauma and a loving, nurturing home.” Read more of Karen’s story here.

Amy Gilles, CASA Volunteer

2019 Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year

“CASA Volunteers are like quarterbacks, who are able to see all the players involved, identify the best play to work toward and have the goal of a safe, permanent, nurturing home for each child they work with. As volunteers, we advocate for education services, for the physical and mental health care needs of the child and collaborate with others in the child protection system to identify what is in the best interest of the child. This is why we need more volunteers to speak up for children who will need us now and in the future.” Read more of Amy’s story here.

Mike Hardy, CASA Volunteer

2019 Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year

“With current events, like our public health situation and the economy, we have an expanding need in our community for CASA Volunteers. What they do for children in crisis is seldom available elsewhere. We facilitate the process to get services and assistance for children and their care providers, which is critical much of the time. We’ve been trained to do this as quickly as possible because every day matters in the life of a child. That’s why we need more CASA Volunteers: because we have to make sure that more community members are specially trained to work with these children.” Read more of Mike’s story here.