Who We Are

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Programs

C.A.S.A. of San Bernardino County was founded in 1984 and incorporated in 1989 by the presiding Juvenile Dependency Court Judge at the time, Judge Patrick Morris. 

San Bernardino County currently has over 5,000 children living in foster care. C.A.S.A. serves children/youth ages 5-21 living in all 31 cities and unincorporated areas of the county’s child welfare system. C.A.S.A. particularly serves fragile youth amongst the already vulnerable foster youth population. The youth that are referred to C.A.S.A. include youth who are: pregnant and parenting, on probation, in need of physical developmental and mental health care, transition-age (emancipating) youth, youth who have suffered extreme abuse and neglect, youth that are in danger of failing and or dropping out of school, youth that have no familial connections and or meaningful relationships, and who are victims of trafficking.  C.A.S.A. recruits, screens, trains and supervises community volunteers to be court appointed special advocates.  C.A.S.A. has two programs;

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA):

What is a CASA?   A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer who is appointed by the judge to represent the best interests of a child/youth currently under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Dependency court.

What is the CASA Volunteer’s Role? A CASA volunteer provides a judge with recommendations that help the court make decisions about that child’s or youth’s future. Additionally, CASA’s mentor to the youth and help them obtain resources.

How Does a CASA Volunteer Investigate a Case?  To prepare a court report, the CASA volunteer talks with the child or youth, parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers, and others who may be involved in the youth’s life.  The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child, i.e. school, medical, caseworker reports and other documents as necessary.

Is There a “Typical” CASA Volunteer?  CASA volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds.  Aside from their CASA volunteer work, 85% are employed in regular full-time jobs.  2/3 of the volunteers nationwide are women, 1/3 are men.

How Much Time Does it Require? A CASA volunteer usually spends a minimum of 10-15 hours per month on their assigned case.

Educational Advocacy Program 

An Educational Advocate is a volunteer appointed by the Court as the designated educational rights holder for the child/youth currently under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Dependency Court. Educational Advocates participate in all educational decisions and planning for each child they serve (up to 5).

The Role of the Educational Advocate includes but may not be limited to:

- Meeting with the child/youth to assess their views of any educational needs

- Ensuring that the child/youth educational rights are being met

- Working with the school (teachers, counselors, administrators, and school board members) regarding the student’s educational needs and/or educational   program

- Facilitating collaborative interaction between the school and other agencies that work with the student

- Reporting the child’s educational progress and needs to the Court on a bi-annual basis

- Participating in school meetings (Optional): such as PTA, Home/School Club, school board meetings, parent advisory committee meetings

- The Educational Advocate will receive the same 30 hours of training as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), which includes training on Educational  Advocacy. The average monthly time commitment is 3 to 5 hours a month, per child, depending on their individual needs.

 

CASA volunteers mentor youth by challenging them, inspiring them and motivating them.  In a child welfare system that is constantly changing: change in social workers, change in schools, and change in placements, a CASA volunteer is the one consistent figure in the child’s life who is always there to help them manage the difficulties and challenges of foster care.  CASA volunteers prepare court reports and submit court recommendations at every court hearing in order to improve the child’s experience in care and ensure that their voice is heard.  Every year CASA serves over 250 vulnerable youth, helping transform a life of tragedy into a life of hope.

C.A.S.A. strives to improve the lives of foster care youth and youth on probation through mentoring and advocacy efforts from trained community volunteers with the support of collaborative partners to improve youth educational achievements, overall well-being, establish community connections and foster positive relationships for a successful transition into interdependence.  No child should go through this experience alone, become a C.A.S.A. volunteer!

How Does a CASA Volunteer Differ from a Social Service Caseworker?   Social Workers are generally employed by state or county governments.  They sometimes work on as many as 40 cases or more at a time, therefore they are not always able to have an individual understanding of each youth on their caseload.  The CASA worker is a volunteer with more time and works with only 1 or 2 youth at a time.  The CASA Volunteer does not replace a social worker on a case; he or she is an independent appointee of the court.

How Does the Role of a CASA Volunteer Differ from an Attorney? The CASA volunteer does not provide legal representation in the courtroom.  That is the role of the attorney.

Do Lawyers, Judges and Social Caseworkers Support CASA?  Yes. Juvenile and Family Court Judges implement the CASA program in all of their courtrooms and appoint the volunteers.

How many CASA Programs are There?  There are now more than 1,000 CASA programs in all 50 states, with more than 70,000 volunteers.  In California there are currently 46 programs.

Are there Any Other Agencies or Groups That Provide the Same Service?  No.  There are other child advocacy organizations, but CASA is the only program where volunteers are appointed by the court to have the specific responsibility of looking after the child’s best interest. 

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