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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 1:26 pm | Fair 67º


CASA Adds Eight Advocates for Local Children

Volunteers champion youngsters who have been victims of child abuse and/or neglect

​Back row CASA’s Aaron Pankratz, left, Judge Arthur A. Garcia, Rebecca Fraser, KC Kemp, Joseph Abram, CASA’s Kim Colby Davis. Front row: Katie Pechesky, left, Susan Kinnevy, Colleen Lai, Susan Shanaberger.
​Back row CASA’s Aaron Pankratz, left, Judge Arthur A. Garcia, Rebecca Fraser, KC Kemp, Joseph Abram, CASA’s Kim Colby Davis. Front row: Katie Pechesky, left, Susan Kinnevy, Colleen Lai, Susan Shanaberger. (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

Judge Arthur A. Garcia received eight community volunteers as Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected children, swearing them in as officers of the court Tuesday evening.

Conducted at an annual in-service training, more than 50 CASA volunteers gathered at the Franklin Neighborhood Center in Santa Barbara to welcome volunteers who took an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of the child.

Some of the new appointees will be assigned cases in the North County, while others will monitor cases of children placed outside the county.

The new community volunteers will help CASA reach its goal of serving every foster care child waiting for a CASA advocate in Santa Barbara County.

“Our goal is to have a volunteer advocating for every abused and neglected child and to serve those children as long as they are in the foster care system,” said Kim Colby Davis, CASA's executive director.

The newly appointed CASA volunteers join more than 300 other community members who've received advanced training and are currently advocating for children in the county’s juvenile dependency court system.

All of those children have been victims of the crime of child abuse and/or neglect. As officers of the court, CASA volunteers advocate for what is in the child’s best interest and ensure the needs of abused and neglected children are heard in the courtroom.

Advocates commit to meeting with the child for at least one hour each week and are authorized to interview people in the child’s life, such as social workers, attorneys and teachers.

Advocates attend court hearings with the child twice a year and report their findings to the judge.

“What you are doing will make a difference,” said Garcia. “I am thanking you in advance for your service because not all children will thank you. But one day, they will look back and wish they did.”

People from all walks of life are CASA volunteers. Candidates must be at least 21 years old, clear an extensive background screening, and successfully complete 30 hours of CASA volunteer training.

CASA’s next volunteer training begins July 31, in Santa Maria. To learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and being a voice for a child, contact Crystal Moreno, recruiting and outreach director at 739-9102 ext. 2594 or email [email protected]

For more information about making a donation, or getting involved in a variety of other ways, visit www.sbcasa.org.

— Crystal Moreno for CASA of Santa Barbara County.


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