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December 31

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Santa Cruz County (CASA)

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Organization Mission

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a child’s voice in dependency court, providing advocacy, stability and hope to children in foster care who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The volunteer Advocate ensures that children receive health services, educational and vocational assistance, tutoring, therapy, and support to heal and grow into healthy, successful adults.

These children will be placed in a permanent, loving home more quickly and are far less likely to return to the foster care system than children without an Advocate.

The Big Idea:
Birth to 5 Program

The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first five years of life, rendering children in the welfare and dependency court system especially vulnerable to biological and environmental stressors. The attempts by families in crisis to achieve health and safety are often hindered by poverty, historical trauma, substance abuse, and minimal education to the detriment of the infants and toddlers in the family.

Our newly-launched Birth to 5 program addresses the most vulnerable children in the child welfare and dependency court system. CASA will offer specialized training to volunteers tailored to the special skills needed by these Advocates, with a focus on developing the relationship between the child and their primary caregivers. Advocates provide support in accessing resources for both caregivers and child, and build rapport with caregivers to encourage them to build strong bonds with the child so that the child can thrive.

I was 5-year-old ‘Susie’s’ Advocate for 18 months, and helped her through several challenging transitions. My case closed last week on a very happy note: Susie was reunified with her thriving mother!

— Anonymous