WATSONVILLE — In 2018, 73 community members completed 35 hours of training and were sworn in as officers of the court to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates in the Juvenile Dependency Court of Santa Cruz County.
These volunteers have committed to help a child or youth in foster care that has been abused or neglected.
The graduating class on Dec. 4 also marked the retirement of CASA’s trainer of 11 years, Fred Koehler.
“What I’ve noticed from training over 600 CASA volunteers is that so many of them find helping one vulnerable child in a very difficult situation is a way they can make a real measurable difference in the world,” he said. “Volunteers helping babies have a voice in court, being a friend to a school-age child or being a mentor to an older youth are all ways to make a real tangible difference. I’ve seen Advocates’ lives be changed by this process. Watching so many people making a difference in this simple and caring way has opened my heart and has changed my life too.”
This year, 230 children and youth in foster care have been served by 195 volunteers.
CASA volunteers devote two-to-four hours a week getting to know one child in foster care and gather information from everyone involved in the child’s life.
Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate can attend an information meeting in January or contact CASA’s Outreach and Recruitment Manager Cita Rasul at [email protected] or 761-2956.
Upcoming information meetings are:
• Tuesday, Jan. 8, 10 a.m. at CASA, 813 Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville
• Tuesday, Jan. 8, 6 p.m. at Live Oak Family Resource Center, 1740 17th Ave. in Santa Cruz
• Wednesday, Jan. 9, 5:30 p.m. at CASA
• Thursday, Jan. 10, 2 p.m. at The Painted Cork, 1129 Soquel Ave. in Santa Cruz
• Friday, Jan. 11, noon at California Coffee, 9105 Soquel Drive in Aptos