Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 10:24 am | Overcast 72º


14 New Child Advocates Sworn In in Santa Maria

CASA volunteers see that children’s best interests are priority

New class of CASA volunteers will stand up for abused and neglected kids.
New class of CASA volunteers will stand up for abused and neglected kids. (Courtesy photo)

Fourteen community members recently were sworn in by Judge Arthur A. Garcia as CASA volunteers (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) for abused and neglected children.

Family, friends, current volunteers, and CASA were among those attending the June 6 ceremony to support the new class of volunteers.

“If you show up when you say you will, do what you say you will do, they’ll remember that. They’ll remember you,” CASA volunteer Frank Ritenour, told the class. Ritenour is currently on his seventh case.

After taking the oath, the new advocates were asked to say a few words. Rosa Coronado expressed exactly why she became a CASA volunteer: “I’m not here for me. I’m here for the child. To be that difference for them.”

The new CASA volunteers join 202 other community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the county’s juvenile dependency court system.

As officers of the court, they ensure the children’s needs are recognized and best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.

“Our volunteers pledge to stay with the child until the case is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home," said Kim Colby Davis, executive director of CASA of Santa Barbara County.

"Our volunteers believe that every child has worth. And they put that belief into positive action by advocating fearlessly,” Davis said.

CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child weekly and are authorized to interview people in the child’s life, such as social workers, attorneys and teachers. They attend court hearings with the child and report their findings to the judge.

There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 old, clearing an extensive background screening, and successfully completing 30 hours of training.

CASA will hold an informational session for new volunteers Thursday, June 14. in Santa Maria.

Those interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, can contact Davis at [email protected] or call 805-739-9102, ext. 2594.

— Kira Farrell for CASA.


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