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CASA of Santa Cruz County

CAS of Santa Cruz

Organization Mission

CASA is a child’s voice in dependency court, providing advocacy, stability, and hope to children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.

This support had a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of children and youth in foster care. They receive many health, emotional, and educational resources they might not otherwise receive. “CASA children” have a higher rate of adoption than those without an Advocate, are less likely to return to the system, and are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care. 83% of our youth graduated from high school, compared to the state average of 45%.

The Big Idea:
Through no fault of their own: Children in foster care need special Advocates

The trauma of being removed from their homes and placed in foster care has a profound effect on children and youth. Over 400 children and youth are in the foster care system in Santa Cruz County, and those most in need are referred to CASA. In 2018, CASA anticipates serving more than 285, age birth to 21 years.

CASA receives referrals daily for children and youth who need an Advocate, and we have a wait list for those who need bilingual Advocates. Though the majority of children are 6-12 years old, the youngest (age birth to 3) have immediate, unique needs. They need an Advocate who will go into their homes and strengthen the bond between the child and their caregiver.

Advocates commit to working with each child for a year and a half, and are trained to support birth parents since most children are still in their homes while under supervision of the dependency court. Older youth receive support to be successful as they move toward independent living. Many of our Advocates of older youth spend years with them, and are connected to them even after they turn 21.

There was a lot of abuse in my home. I was 15 when I was removed from my home and placed with a foster family. Unfortunately, my two siblings were placed in two different foster homes. In a little over two and a half years, I had nine different placements. When I was a sophomore, I was matched with Savanna, my CASA. When I first met Savanna, she said, “I’m here to advocate for you.” Now she says, “You’ve learned how to advocate for yourself.” And she’s right. I’ve learned to speak out, and speak up. I’ll graduate from high school in December. I want to work full-time, get my own place, and spend more time with my brother and sister. I’m in a better place now, and with Savanna by my side, I’m moving forward.

Iris P.