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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

CASA of Sonoma County (Court Appointed Special Advocates of Sonoma County)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Child Abuse Prevention, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Crime & Law, Domestic Violence, Human Services, Protection Against Abuse

Mission: Sonoma CASA Program is committed to serving the abused and neglected children in Sonoma County who come before the Juvenile Court for protection. The purpose of CASA is to humanize the complicated, unfamiliar, and frightening legal and child welfare systems for the child victim by providing a trained volunteer who will act as a consistent mentor, role model, support person, and advocate.

Results: http://www.sonomacasa.org/aboutus/director.html

Target demographics: To help the abused and neglected children of Sonoma County.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 180-200 abused and neglected children in Sonoma County, on average.

Geographic areas served: Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA, USA

Programs: A safe, permanent home isn't something that a child should only dream about.. Volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are everyday people who are trained and then appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. Our Program Goal: 1. Advocate vigorously for the rights of abused/neglected children in Sonoma County ensuring that all "reasonable efforts" have been made for a child at every stage of the court dependency process. 2. Improve the quality of information presented to the Juvenile Court on behalf of the child by informing the court of the child's adjustment and state of mind. Relevant information is gathered and appropriate case recommendations made in a written case report. 3. Develop and implement a sound program management plan which includes recruitment, retention, supervision, and training of a competent volunteer corps which is ethnically, racially, and linguistically representative of the population to be served.

Community Stories

74 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with this agency since it's inception almost twenty one years ago. I have had the honor to advocate for seven young women as a CASA volunteer. I was able connect with these girls on a personal and professional level. In each case they were able to give so much value and texture to my life by allowing me to see that there are life experiences that are different from mine but that adversity can and will be overcome. I have come to value each and every human being and seeing potential in them. I also served in the office as a Training Coordinator for two years. In that capacity I have come to value and appreciate the players in the Social Service system in this county. There is a dedication to these children and a compassion that permeates from the professionals in their field from Social Workers to Supervisors of Human Services to the judges whose burden is such that I am honored to be able to report to them to make their decisions more informed and clear. If you want to make a difference in your life and the life of the future generations you will look into this nonprofit.

Jade R.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a CPS social worker I have worked with families in which one or more of the children had a CASA volunteer. In every case, CASA matched the child with a CASA that would be a goof fit for the family. For example, in a family with Spanish-speaking parents and bilingual children, CASA assigned a bilingual CASA volunteer who could also communicate with the parents. In another case, the boy who loved sports was assigned a CASA that also loved sports. In each case the CASAs were caring and responsible and communicated their observations of the child and family with both the social worker and the court. Some CASAs continue working with the child through the end of the case, which for some children can be years. One CASA helped the family find needed housing. The children we serve very much need stable, caring and responsible adult role models. CASAs are an essential part of the Child Welfare system!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I give my time, I like it to matter; I like to be clear about my duties, responsibilities, and purpose. CASA fulfills these requirements completely. The training is thorough and thoughtful, with presentations from all of the important organizations who care about and provide services for foster youth. From the training, the new CASA has an inside view of a system that has a most important purpose - care for abused and neglected children - and a sense of what the volunteer can do to help.

I recommend CASA to all my colleagues in the schools who contemplate retirement and want to continue to work with kids. The "work" is meaningful, simple, and often even fun.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a social worker with the Sonoma County Family, Youth and Children Division of the Human Services Department. I have worked with many families over the years in which one or more of the children had a CASA volunteer. I have also attending many Team Decision Making Meetings in which a CASA was present as a child advocate. I have been so impressed with the kindness, generosity and professionalism of the CASA volunteers. Oftentimes the families with which we work are facing serious challenges such as poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, medical health problems, and a history of trauma for both parents and children. Sometimes children are removed from their parents' care and the parents fail to reunify with their children and the children are cared for by relatives or foster parents. In some cases they go on to be adopted. In these long term cases the CASA stays in the child's life, continues to advocate for the child, spend time with the child, and report to the child welfare court how the child is doing. The CASA volunteer is a very important member of the team of professionals who are supporting the child. I know of one CASA (years ago) that helped a 13 year old girl raise money for her 8th grade trip to Washington DC. This was a girl who had never been on a plane and may not have every travelled outside of Sonoma County. This same CASA spent time with her each week her out to eat and to fun activities that her family had not been able to provide for her. This same CASA helped the family find a beautiful home to rent in a much safer neighborhood than where they had been living. CSA of Sonoma County and the CASA volunteers are providing an amazing service to high risk children and indirectly to their families as well. I am so grateful for all the work they do!

6 cahillrn

Donor

Rating: 5

I love CASA and their mission. Children are the vulnerable in our society and it is our duty to make sure they are cared for. When children are in the "system" they need us even more. CASA volunteers are assigned a child and are there to advocate for that child to ensure the best decisions are made for the child's benefit. So far I have only been a donor to this outstanding organization, but in the very near future I plan to become a CASA volunteer and make a difference in a child's life. Thank you, Carole

Previous Stories
6

Donor

Rating: 5

Casa is the best nonprofit organization I have ever worked with. Their dedication to the children in the "system" in our county is amazing and very needed. I have supported Casa for quite some time and look forward to being a volunteer in the near future. Keep up the wonderful work you are doing for our children.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a CASA volunteer for 13 years. I stay involved because I know how important this service is to abused, abandoned, and neglected kids that, through no fault of their own, find themselves separated from their families. CASA is a well-run, highly efficient organization that very effectively gives these kids hope and chances for success to which they otherwise would not have access.

Previous Stories
8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've just completed my 10th year as a CASA volunteer; all with the same young man. It's been an amazing growth experience for both of us. Now, besides continuing to mentor my now-emancipated "CASA Kid", I help train incoming CASA's, providing insights as to the program's responsibilities. In the past few years, the young man has shared the podium with me, giving these recruits a full dose of what living in the system is really like, and the importance of CASA in his life.
Friendships, lawyers, social workers, group and foster homes, schools (and more) typically change frequently in the chaotic day-to-day experience of kids who are "wards of the court". Often, the CASA volunteer is the only consistent, reliable relationship these kids can count on to be there for them. And, we have been officially appointed to represent these kids in court. The judge gives as much weight to recommendations made by CASA's as by any other court official.
Being a CASA is sometimes frustrating, usually challenging, and always rewarding. This organization is definitely worth your financial support, or (and better yet) your personal involvement. Join us!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am glad I was a CASA volunteer. The training for the volunteers was excellent and the support good. I encountered many children who had little consistency in their homes and so I tried to provide a bit of consistency by meeting weekly and doing different fun and creative activities with my child.Bouncing around on a ship in the ocean hoping to see whales and feeling sea sick was most memorable! Perhaps the the hardest thing for me was to not know if the time spent with my child was really helping the child to navigate through life in a better way. I guess one may never know, but one just hopes so!


4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being a CASA not only enriches the life of a foster youth, it enriches the life of the CASA.

As a CASA, you have something wonderful to offer the youth... your presence and your acceptance of him or her "as is." You are not getting paid to be there; you want to be there.

I had the privilege of "being there" for a young teen, who is now a prospering young adult. It wasn't always easy; there were many bumps in the road. Yet today, she tells me that my presence in her life really made a difference. She says, "You were the only one who visited me in Juvenile Hall. I always knew that you cared about me. You were MY CASA. You never put me down. You held me in your heart and I will always hold you in mine."

CASA of Sonoma County has a wonderful support staff, excellent training and an extraordinary commitment to helping the most vulnerable members of our community, our "kids"!

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

Sonoma CASA is amazing organization that focuses on supporting and encouraging foster youth as they maneuver the foster care system. The CASA staff are knowledgeable about the court and foster care system and provide continuous support to the volunteers.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

CASA of Sonoma Co. is a key component of the Juvenile Court System of our county. The program provides a consistent adult connection for foster children. This consistent adult is a volunteer who donates his/her time to advocate for these foster kids in the courtroom, classroom and community...making a difference!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with CASA as a volunteer for over 20 years . I have had many rewarding relationships with children, families, community workers, CASA staff and volunteers. I feel that CASA provides a voice for many children who otherwise would not have trained and caring advocates outside of their families and government professionals. When we help children, we help better the future for all of our family and the world. CASA has many dedicated workers and volunteers who believe in helping as many children in need as we possibly can. CASA warms my soul.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I first heard of CASA through a friend from TX, I decided to check out the organization here in my town. From my very first contact, I knew I wanted to volunteer. The professionalism of the staff coupled with their warmth and compassion for every child in foster care was clearly evident. During the training we heard from a variety of professionals serving these children; social worker, lawyer, the judges, probation officer, therapists and more. The calibre of each presenter was so impressive. I was deeply moved by their compassion and commitment to the well-being of each and every child. I had no idea we have so many incredible, dedicated human beings working together to create a better future for the children, youth and their families in the system. I feel privileged to be a part of the CASA organization, to be a voice for a child, and a part of the greater team.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Becoming a CASA has been one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had! The training I received was top of the line, very organized, informational, and a pleasure to be a part of. I am very proud and genuinely humbled to be a CASA to a young brother and sister that are in the foster system. I would highly recommend it to anyone that has the heart and desire to help children.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

We have supported CASA for over 15 years without a doubt the best support system for children in need. The director is superb and extremely dedicated to the entire organization and especially the kids.

3

Former staff

Rating: 5

I have a professional working relationship with CASA. I have seen first hand the dedication and compassion the CASA employees towards their mission. This is a special organization to have in our community. They contribute to the lives of foster children as well as enhance the community with well-trained volunteers, an active and an active and hard working Board, and provide the non-profit sector with an outstanding and efficiently managed non-profit.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer, in various organizations, for about 45 years and can say without hesitation that my time with CASA has been the most meaningful of all. Not only have I had the chance to become close to some wonderful, sensitive children, but I also have had the satisfaction of knowing that I have been able to impact their lives in sometimes substantial ways. For example, I just returned this morning from a court hearing in which my comments regarding the child's future were welcomed by the social worker, the attorneys and the judge. I am proud to be part of this fine organization, which cooperates so well with our partners in Sonoma County who also care deeply about the welfare of our children.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have seen the amazing things that this program achieves with the students that I work with as a school counselor. I support it whole heartedly!

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

CASA has hosted interns from SRJC for many years. Student interns always gain valuable experience because the staff provide excellent training and supervision.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have participated in many different kinds of volunteer work over the years, but my experience with CASA has been life changing. It does my heart good to see how much this organization truly cares about children, and everyone on their staff is dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of the youth in their community. I have been a CASA for about 6 months now, and I sincerely feel like it gives me the opportunity to make a difference in a young person's life. I hope that if you are reading this review, you will consider donating to this top notch organization, or maybe even becoming a volunteer. I guarantee that you will be glad you did!

3

Former staff

Rating: 5

I can truly say this nonprofit is nothing but pure good. I've seen so many adults and youth be positively changed by CASA of Sonoma County. It fills a void no other nonprofit does and is a guiding light for so many.