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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

77 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a CASA for over five years. The work CASA a is doing for children in the foster care system in Sonoma County changes lives. It has certainly changed mine. It is a commitment of time and effort but also of heart and soul. To be the one person in my youth's life who is consistent, dependable, and supportive gives me real joy. CASA of Sonoma County is an outstanding nonprofit organization!

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have proudly served as a CASA for the past three years. During this time I have had the privilege to support three different girls in the foster care system. These are children with amazing stories of resilience but for whom childhood has been accompanied with much pain and loss. We at CASA aim to be part of a safety net which provides another responsible, caring adult in the lives of children. More than anything, we "show up". We provide nurturing, expanding experiences and broad shoulders to help lessen the load.We set an example as a consistent, responsible adult. We advocate at every turn on behalf of our youth. We listen. While being a CASA can present many challenges, the rewards that can at times be small and slow in coming, are HUGE. I know from experience that what we do, the support we provide, is changing lives. CASA Jill E

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of knowing the Executive Director for over 15 years. This organization does an amazing job of advocating for foster youth in ways that truly make a difference. I highly recommend supporting this worthy program.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have just finished the 40 hour CASA training and recently received my assignment. During the training and the tours of various facilities I received comprehensive, invaluable information. The presenters were clearly dedicated to their work with our County's youth and families. Likewise, they are committed to having CASAs as equal members of the professional team. I feel valued and respected already, and I have just begun this journey! CASA of Sonoma County appears to be a cohesive and knowledgable organization. As a former director of volunteer services in a large medical center, I am very impressed with the quality of staff support and leadership for its volunteers.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization does something really important for one child at a time. Each child with a volunteer CASA has an adult who will stay with the child from the time assigned till the child leaves the legal supervision of the county legal system. The CASA can make a difference that that child's life that can last a lifetime. How rewarding this can be.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The CASA youth stands alone because of circumstances and in order to survive. Most accumulate multiple addresses and schools plus revolving professional staff members throughout their young lives. Only their CASA is a constant.

My hope for my CASA boys was that one day, no matter how distant, they would know that someone cared about them. Although I have retired, their names are still posted on my dashboard because I still care.

Peter C. Grauert

3 MaryAnn W

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer I have always been impressed with the dedication, and team efforts made by the executive director, office staff, and volunteers in helping children in the community.
CASA strives to improve the lives of children that are in need, someone to be there for them where vacancies have often been left, and hardships have been handed out.
After moving to Sonoma County I was talking to a family member, telling them I wanted to volunteer, and they recommended CASA to me. They had heard great things about CASA, and told me to "check it out", I did my homework, and feel I made the best choice........great place to volunteer

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a CASA volunteer and am currently a Board member. The CASA volunteer is a screened, trained & dedicated person helping kids in need of an adult role model. The kids have been removed from their parents and need help in dealing with social workers, teachers, attorneys, etc. The CASA can be the constant in the child's life. CASA is a very worthwhile non-profit.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for CASA for eight years, the most rewarding work I have ever done. The Foster kids appreciated what I did for them, even the little things. Yes, I helped make a difference in their lives, but I got even more back from the experience. To take on a child that didn't know what a good adult in their lives looked like, and gain their trust was amazing. To show up at a group home, and to be considered a "rock star" just for being a CASA were big shoes to fill. If you have the time in your life, I recommend getting involved. The agency does a great job training and supporting you. Not an easy volunteer job, but if you want to make a huge difference, this is the gig.

3 Yogamom

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering for CASA has been a very profound and soulful experience. Meeting the children, getting to know them and allowing them to get to know me, has been a richly rewarding experience. (I sincerely wanted to adopt one of the children.) It is wonderful to donate money to such an organization and I can't encourage that enough, but to donate your time and your heart is much better, when possible. The staff members, volunteer supervisors and executive director are always available and more than willing to lend support and expert guidance. I have never had the pleasure of dealing with such a compassionate, professional and effective group of individuals. Working with the children is such a richly rewarding experience, I believe everyone should become involved in doing so, or at least be involved with CASA. I believe you will see yourself in the eyes of a child, whatever their background, and grow a little yourself as did I. I will always stay involved and support the great work of CASA of Sonoma County does, contribute however I can, and encourage others to do so as well. There are children out there right now that will change your life for the better, if you will step forward to change theirs. You can make all the difference in the world, TODAY! God bless.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

The impact on the lives that CASA Sonoma County has touched is unprecendent. The stories you hear from the children that have gone through CASA are life-changing; both for the child and the CASA. The CASA volunteers dedicate an enourmous amount of time, energy and resources and I am forever thankful for their committment to the agency.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

CASA has been such a blessing in my life and the lives of these youths. There are so many children out there that have no one to turn to in their time of need. CASA's are their voice in court and society. CASA's are a resourse for them with regard to health, education, housing and jobs. Some of these youths do not have skills that we take for granted. This experience has changed my life forever, I wish that I could be a CASA for a career I would have 10 kids!! There are so many kinds that need help and they are the future of our world, they need us just as much as we need them. We have to take a stand to make a change for the better of society and future generations. I can not stress how supportive and fantastic the CASA volunteers supervisors are either. They are always there for support when you just need to vent about anything; they always have the answer. I have no idea how Millie does what she does but it is always for these kids and she and this program is a TRUE inspiration. I hope that there are many more people that want to become CASA's so that one day there will not be a witing list and that all of the kids that need the help and support can get it. Again, thank you to CASA, the volunteer supervisors, Millie and most importantly the kids. This is a great program that I think everyone should get involved in, to make a difference in the lives of these youths.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I feel honored and blessed to be a CASA. After retiring from community college teaching, I spent several months looking for meaningful volunteer work. CASA has met my highest expectations. The screening is rigorous, the training is detailed and helpful, and the ongoing support and supervision are exemplary. Although the greatest joy of being a CASA is spending time with a youth in the foster care and/or delinquency system, a CASA is much more than a mentor or friend. Our task is to stay in touch with social workers, probation officers, teachers, doctors, group home staff or foster parents, to keep information flowing and to see that our youth does not fall through the cracks of our overstressed human service and delinquency systems. CASAs write court reports that judges, attorneys, social workers and probation officers actually read. Best of all, my particular youth, who has been in and out of group homes and juvenile hall, is now in a place where he is starting to move beyond years of abuse and to grow in wondrous and exciting ways. CASA makes a difference.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved in other volunteer programs in the past but I have to say serving as a CASA is the most rewarding experience I have ever had. There is no measurement you can place on being the voice, a mentor, a support sytem and consisent presence in the life of a child. I currently have 3 CASA children each of them having different backgrounds and stories. Although things may not always move along as quickly as I would like, I see endless possibilities for a successful future for them. To see the sparkle in their eyes when they see me and/or to be the ears they need when they have tears in their eyes makes it all worth it. Getting involved can seem scary and overwhelming at first. To be completely honest, the fear of making a mistake was in the back of my mind but then I realized if these brave children can face their fears everyday then so could I. I am so glad I did not let the fear hold me back!!!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have always been someone who wanted to make a difference, but didn't feel that I had much to offer in the way of talents. When I learned about Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), I realized that I could make a difference to a child and I didn't need to be anybody but myself to do so. Being a CASA has been a wonderful experience. The dedicated staff at CASA of Sonoma County support the volunteers every step of the way. Mother Theresa advised others to do small things with great love. Being a CASA is doing just that!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with CASA was a tremendous experience. The organization works extremely hard to provide a child in Sonoma County with a volunteer who will advocate for them, support them through their challenges in the system, and maintain a relationship with the child even after aging out of the system. The number of relationships formed and positive experiences through the organization are inspiring. I would encourage anyone to become a CASA and make a difference in the life of a child.

4 CPR PHOTOGRAPHY

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having been both an employee of the local CASA of Sonoma County, and continually providing professional website design & maintenance services as a volunteer (to present), I have found this organization to run "lean and mean". Meaning, this organization works hard, very hard, for each and every donation it receives; There are no extravagances; And, it uses that money very wisely, thus allowing the largest portion to go directly to the children in need. The clients of CASA are children who are abused and/or neglected in Sonoma County, and this organization provides a personal advocate for each child, guiding them through the court system, and advocating for all their needs, such as schooling and medical. The Honorable Judges of Sonoma County REALLY listen to what reports, recommendations and news the volunteer "CASA's" bring to the courtroom on behalf of the child. Often, social workers do not have enough time to dedicate as much as a CASA can bring to the case, so this is very valuable information that can shape the future of a young person. Together, with a whole team of CASA's, the volunteer advisers, the volunteer supervisors, and all the rest of those who work together, help to build a promising future for these children. Consider becoming a volunteer CASA, an intern, a donor, an in-kind donor, a corporate donor, or volunteer for various fundraising functions throughout the year. There are so many ways to help, just give them a call 707-565-6375 or visit http://sonomacasa.org/ for more information. Thank you!

3

Advisor

Rating: 5

Court Appointed Special Advocates in Sonoma County trains volunteers to support individual youth in the complex child welfare system. The trainers for this program, including myself, are local experts in their particular section of the field. There is a cohort of trainer/advisers that consistently return, as volunteers, since the program began fifteen years ago. This loyalty, to give our professional time to ensure that new trainees are connected to the community of providers for youth, is a product of the value that CASA staff place on effective relationships. As a presenter I get honest and timely feedback from the trainees, staff and director. As a professional in the field I bring updated information and materials to the CASA staff. This dynamic engagement of professionals with volunteer supervisors and staff gives strength, depth of information and understanding of multiple systems interactions to the entire program. The volunteers benefit by having broad expertise as close as a call to their volunteer supervisor when they need it. As a CASA serving two youth myself, this is beyond price when an issue arises quickly, as they do.

3 Heidi A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being a part of CASA is one of the most rewarding opportunities I have encountered in my life. Through their extensive and thorough training program, I was provided the tools and support necessary to be able to advocate for youth in my community. Over the past four years, I have been lucky enough to work with three wonderful young ladies who are just finding out who they are and what they want in life. This experience has definately opened up my eyes and shown me how important the children are to the overall well being of society in general. CASA is one of the most important organizations I have ever worked with...

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a proud Sonoma County CASA since 2005. I have had two cases that have been very different. I feel the interaction I have had with both children has been essential to them in a positive way. My training and introduction to the CASA organization was nothing short of amazing. The speakers and the people from the Courts and various departments as well as the CASA Staff and Director, give 110% to this program, and that is what it makes it work. The intention of what is best for these children is what is most important. My role as a CASA has had a great impact on me in many ways. It has opened my eyes to the challenges that children face, that parents face and the ways in which they affect each other for possibly years to come. I have learned that the consistency and dedication of just one person can make a difference in a child's life that can sometimes be the saving grace. Just ONE person that cares and is there for them, shows up and listens to them, and responds to them, this is what makes a happy child. Truly my experiences have made me realize all children need that special someone that looks out for them and only them. I am proud to say that I have taken on this role and have made a difference.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As with most of life, it can be what you put into it. CASA of Sonoma County offers not just the opportunity to improve the life of a child, through improving the child's experience of being in the "system," accompanying them through some of the most difficult years of their life, but this program also offers the volunteer the chance to be the change that he or she wants to see for their local community. The "system" is overwhelmed and CASA volunteers often become the most consistent presence in the life of an at risk youth. Sonoma County's program offers tons of support through reviews, ongoing education about relevant issues, and volunteer accountability and recognition. There is a high degree of emphasis placed on integrity and reputation, on empowerment and collaboration. This is an organization that truly embodies its mission.