CASA of Del Norte began as a dual county program with CASA of Humboldt as the parent organization. As a result of encouragement of many community members including the Superior Court Judges, foster parents, the business community and members of the Juvenile Justice Commission, the CASA program in Del Norte County began in the summer of 1997.
While the counties of Del Norte and Humboldt have many similarities, our communities are also separately unique. Recognizing this factor, a plan for separation of CASA of Del Norte and CASA of Humboldt began to take shape. In the fall of 2001, a Steering Committee was formed to develop and present a plan forming a separate local program in Del Norte County.
After many meetings which included in depth and sincere work on the part of the committee, CASA of Del Norte obtained 501 (c ) (3) status, obtained start-up funding and began to operate as a separate program. Following the hiring of staff, the office opened on February 1, 2002.
CASA of Del Norte continues to grow and evolve based on both the needs and the strengths of the community. We invite you to join us – you can help to “lift up a childs' voice.”
CASA in California
In 1986, the California CASA Association was started as an informal gathering by the directors of programs from the San Francisco Bay area as a means of providing peer support and sharing information and concerns. CaliforniaCASA was formalized in 1988 with core funding from the Stuart Foundation, at which time there were 12 local programs in California. There are currently 41 programs serving 43 counties and Native American Tribes.
National CASA Association
Concerned over making decisions about abused and neglected children's lives without sufficient information, a Seattle judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. So successful was this Seattle program that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today more than 900 CASA programs are in operation, with 70,000 women and men serving as CASA volunteers. CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate.
The vision of CASA of Del Norte is that all children will live in a safe and secure environment.
CASA of Del Norte will support and assist children in the juvenile dependency program by providing well-trained volunteers to advocate objectively in the child’s best interest.
What you need to know
Last year over 120,000 of California’s children were removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system because they had been abused, neglected or abandoned. These children constitute one fifth of all the children in foster care across the nation.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer – a community member – who is appointed by a judge to speak for a child that has been removed from home and made a dependent of the juvenile court. CASA volunteers are generally assigned to one child or sibling group to provide an in-depth and independent investigation of the child’s circumstances, to ensure that court-ordered services are provided, and to advocate for the child’s needs. In 2002, over 4,864 California CASA volunteers donated 643,000 hours to serve more than 8,697 court-dependent children.
Currently, CASA programs in California work with approximately 7% of the children in the state’s child welfare system. The vision of the California Child Welfare System is: “Every child in California lives in a safe, stable, permanent home nurtured by healthy families and strong communities.”
Today in California 43 of the 58 counties are being served by 41 CASA programs. Each program works on behalf of children who are in the juvenile dependency court system through no fault of their own. Each CASA program must manage to balance the needs of the child with the opportunities and resources of their local area.
CASA volunteers are every day extraordinary citizens who have made a commitment to make a difference in the life of a child. They are awesome people who support and encourage the child throughout the court process, they explain the court proceedings to the child, they build and establish a relationship with the child to better understand the needs and desires of the child, they review records pertaining to the family history, medical history, school behavior and use the information gathered to better give the child a voice.
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