EUREKA, CA–CASA, also known as “Court Appointed Special Advocates,” is a national association in the u-s that supports court-appointed advocates for children in the welfare system.
CASA of Humboldt is dedicated to building healthy relationships and bridging community connections for vulnerable children and families in Humboldt County.
Development Director, Amber Madrone and Advocate, Jessica Silva spoke more on the goals of the organization and what it’s like working there.
“We are a volunteer driven organization, and we provide advocacy and mentorship to children involved in the child welfare system so they get to know the child’s birth parents,” Madrone said. “They get to know the child’s caretakers, extended family and schools, their medical history, and they really act as a stable person for the child.and then they report back to the court on what would be in the best interest of the child.”
As far as the Humboldt chapter, getting as many volunteers involved to meet the need is CASA of Humboldt’s ultimate goal.
“There’s over 200 children in Humboldt that are, you know, in the child work or welfare services system and all of them need an advocate,” Silva said. “Ideally, if we had that many volunteers, I think all of them would have one, so that is the goal.”
For both Amber and Jessica working for CASA has become a full circle moment for them.
“I actually have a really personal connection to CASA, and 20 years ago, my three older boys had a CASA, and that was she was an advocate that stood by them for five years while they were navigating the system, Madrone said. “She was there on their adoption day and I just looked at how much of an impact she had and so when the position came up to be part of CASA, it just felt like it was a very full circle for me.”
“I was in foster care, when I was 2 to 3 years old so I was in the system for just over a year. I wanted to be that person to offer resilience for kids in the system,” Silva said. “And I know now that I’ve gone through, I understand how much of a healing experience it was for myself and my own past trauma.”
Being a volunteer can be for anyone in the community, with no professional experience required. CASA is there to help every step of the way for their volunteers.
“So our volunteers come from a really diverse array of our community, we really want volunteers that represent all different interests and ages and genders […] and because that’s, you know, the diversity of our children,” Madrone said. “We provide all the training so really what you need to be a volunteer, you need to be 21 or over. you need to be willing to make a 1 to 2 year commitment.”
“I think the two biggest things that make people question whether or not they can do this volunteer work is the time, commitment and writing court reports, but you’re just so supported,” Silva said. “I think that the most important thing for everyone to know is you’re you’re very supported in the more administrative things that you have to do and like your paperwork,but also casa is so flexible.”
If you are looking to better the community–CASA may be something to look into.
“I mean, they are our extended family in our community so we have a vested interest in giving back to our community to make sure that people have support,” Silva said. “They have the ability to grow resiliency and they know how to trust adults. I think those are things that, you know, when you can provide that for every kid in need, your entire community is going to grow.”