Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 8:03 am | Overcast 61º


Judge Swears in Nine New Child Advocates for CASA

Volunteers assist kids who've been abused or neglected

CASA’s recently added volunteers with Judge Arthur A. Garcia.
CASA’s recently added volunteers with Judge Arthur A. Garcia. (CASA)

During Natonal Child Abuse Prevention Month, Judge Arthur A. Garcia swore in nine new community members as volunteers for CASA — court-appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.

The volunteers will advocate for children in foster care who have experienced abuse or neglect.

CASA's largest swearing-in ceremony of the year, the event was attended by family, friends, current volunteers, CASA staff and board members who came to support the new volunteers. In recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention month, everyone was dressed in blue.

CASA volunteer, Anthony, spoke about the value of spending time with the child for whom you are advocating:

“For that couple of hours, my CASA boy was not the victim of abuse or neglect, he was not living in foster care, and he was not sad about his situation or mad at the world. He was just a boy, without any cares in the world, innocently doing what boys do.”

The new volunteers join 179 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 considered in the courtroom and in the community.

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.

“Our volunteers pledge to stay with each 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,” she said.

CASA of Santa Barbara County is working toward the goal of serving every child in need, something only a few CASA programs nationwide have been able to achieve.

To be a CASA volunteer, one must be at least 21 years old, clear an extensive background screening, and successfully completing 30 hours of training.

The next advocate training session begins April 30 in Santa Maria. To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come with serving as the voice of a child, contact Crystal Sullins at [email protected] or call 739-9102 ext. 2594.

— Kira Farrell for CASA.


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