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CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Cruz County)

Organization Mission

CASA of Santa Cruz County advocates for children, providing court appointed volunteers so each child in the dependency and juvenile court system feels cared for and connected with the people, families, and resources they need to heal and flourish into adulthood.

The Big Idea 2024:
Expanding Advocacy for Vulnerable Youth in Our Community

For over 30 years CASA has served the foster youth of Santa Cruz County and now, after an incredibly successful pilot program, we have expanded services to match volunteer-mentors (Advocates) one-to-one with youth on probation for minor offenses. Sadly, 70% of these kids have experienced the same traumas as their peers in foster care, many growing up without any supportive services to help them heal. As teens, untreated mental health needs may prompt them to act out, starting them on an uncertain path of being involved with the justice system. Without support these kids can get lost in the vicious cycle of incarceration, homelessness, addiction, and crime.

This is where Advocates step in. They meet with their youth several hours per week, help them comply with the terms of their probation, including community service and strategizing the payment of restitution. Advocates provide mentorship and connection to needed services, experiences, and opportunities to help them heal, grow, and thrive in our community.

Youth with a CASA are less likely to return to the system and are more likely to become healthy adults who break the cycle of trauma. Based on data from our pilot project, we now know that youth with a CASA are 50% less likely to re-offend and have 4x increase of their self-efficacy.

CASA definitely was a huge support in my success and where I am at today.

Anonymous former foster youth, now a volunteer Advocate & student at Cabrillo