• CASA of Contra Costa County - November 7, 2017


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    For today’s #TinaTuesday I had the opportunity to meet with Ann Wrixon, LCSW, MBA, Executive Director at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Contra Costa County.  In 1977, out of a dire need to have more information about the children appearing before him, Juvenile Court Judge David Soukup created Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Seattle, Washington.  CASA of Contra Costa County, founded in 1981, was one of the first four CASA organizations started. Today there are close to 1000 CASA programs nationwide. Each year, close to 1,000 abused or neglected children and youth in Contra Costa County come under the court's care because they are unable to live safely at home. Imagine what it would be like to be removed from your parents, not because of something you did, but because they cannot, or will not, take care of and protect you. Then into the lives of these children and youth come dozens of strangers: police, foster parents, social workers, judges, lawyers and more. For some, one of these may be a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer.
    Because of the enormous number of cases filed in juvenile court and dwindling resources to adequately investigate cases, judges are often compelled to make permanency-planning decisions based on less than complete or objective information. This is where a CASA volunteer can and does make a difference.
    CASA volunteers advocate one-on-one for abused and neglected children and youth in foster care to make sure they do not get lost in the over-burdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate placement. They are their voice in court and speak up for the child or youth’s best interests during the dependency process. Volunteers help reduce delays and continuances and stay with each case until it is closed and the child or youth is placed in a safe, permanent home. CASA volunteers visit weekly with the child or youth, and maintain ongoing communication with all parties involved in the case to best serve the child or youth's interests. For the volunteer, this means a commitment of a minimum of two years and an average of 15-20 hours per month of service.  For 36 years, through their service and commitment, volunteers trained by CASA of Contra Costa County have helped to restore hope in the lives of children and youth who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned. CASA volunteers demonstrate time and time again that one person truly can make a difference.
    Things you may not have known (I certainly didn’t)…
    1. 33% of foster children without CASA end up homeless. 100% of CASA youth are housed.
    2. 33% also end up incarcerated, but less than 1% of CASA youth are in the criminal justice system.
    3. There are 1,200 children and youth in the foster care system in Contra Costa County. CASA will provide services to 227 of them this fiscal year (this is dependent on how many volunteers they have). Their goal is to serve 400 foster youth a year by 2021.
    4. Anyone over the age of 21 can volunteer to be a CASA volunteer. You need to pass a background check. CASA provides 45 hours of training and ongoing support to help you serve your foster youth.
    5. There is especially a need for men and African American volunteers, but they welcome everyone.
    6. Their budget is $700,000/year (16% from government/33% from foundation/3% from corporations/48% from individuals).
    7. Dan Ashley (ABC7 News Anchor and CASA Board Member) created the non-profit "Rock the CASA Foundation" to raise money through an annual concert to benefit the CASA organization.
    My purpose for #TinaTuesdays has always been to gather information about our members that you possibly may not have known about, and inevitably I walk away with so much more insight and knowledge then I ever thought possible.    Thank you Ann for taking the time to share all of the great things that CASA and the CASA volunteers are doing for Foster Kids needing help during a very tumultuous time in their lives.  It really does take a “village to raise them up to see what they can be.”  If you would like to be part of that village by becoming a CASA volunteer, or would like more information, you can visit their website at… https://cccocasa.org/
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