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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

84 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

7

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been a CASA since 2005. I have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. As a single parent of two amazing sons for the last 17 years- I know the importance of not only love and attention, but guidance and example for children. It has been an honor to be part of such an important organization. Being a CASA has given me a chance to see the "other side" of children's lives, the trauma, the sadness as well as the hope these kids face.

My cases have all been very different. The one thing they have in common is the need for their voices to be heard. The need for a path to follow, and light at the end of sometimes a bleak tunnel.

I have enjoyed the interaction with not only the children, and the other CASA volunteers, but also the benefits and the immeasurable support from my CASA office. Millie and the office are extremely helpful - and provide all of us the amount of encouragement and information needed to be the best CASA's we can be.

I will continue my role as a CASA for as long as needed with the children of Sonoma County. Making sure they are safe happy and healthy as well as productive in life is paramount in shaping the next generation.

Danyea Tylman

7

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a Volunteer for CASA since 2000. I have had the honor of being an Advocate for three sets of siblings. Even though they are no longer part of the CASA program, I keep in touch and watch as they grow and experience the wonders of life. With the support of Volunteers and the friendships that come from the dedicated workers at CASA we all can make a positive change in the lives of the children in CPS and foster care. I feel CASA and these children have done more for me than what I could ever do for them. Thank you CASA for all your great works and I look forward to continuing to do my best for these children.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

There is no more noble cause or pressing need for the trained volunteers which CASA helps to place with youth who are in foster care or for some reason are involved in the juvenile justice system.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a CASA since early 2009. The training I received before being matched with my foster girl was exceptional. My assigned youth is now a young woman with a great job whom I still see regularly. She often says she would be "nowhere" without the CASA program and its support. I look forward to continuing to work with his amazing organization.

Previous Stories
8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a CASA since early 2009. The training I received before being matched with my foster was exceptional. My assigned youth is now a 21 year old young lady with an apartment, a car and a job with health benefits. She freely admits she would be "nowhere" without the CASA program and its support. I look forward to continuing to work with his amazing organization.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with and supporting the CASA organization in Sonoma County for about 10 years. I have the most respect and admiration of the work that CASA takes on to work with the Court system to represent children who have no other advocate when they are separated from their families. CASA boosts the confidence of the youngest of this displaced population and provides guidance through the labyrinth of the system to make their lives meaningful and positive -- and eventually to a successful independence. I can't speak enough of the great positive impact that this particular organization i.e. CASA/Sonoma County has had on the community and lives of so many children.

Previous Stories
8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the CASA organization in Sonoma County for about 10 years. I was trained to serve as an Advocate, served as a Board Member, and assisted in planning Annual Fund Raisers for the organization. During that time, I consistently became more & more aware of the great need, not only in our community, but nationwide, for support of the great numbers of children who are without a permanent family life. CASA provides a great asset to the Court System by providing one on one advocacy for each child - both within the Court System and all aspects of the child's Life -- living environment, health, education, and well being. CASA also provides assistance for the transition of the child out of the System and into the World. Sonoma County CASA Director, Millie Gilson, is miraculous in making certain that no detail is missed, that services are provided as required, and go beyond to provide inclusion of children to share their amazing progress that can be accomplished with support and encouragement from CASA and their community.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

CASA is the most amazing program for youth. This program gives a voice to those that cannot speak on their behalf. This program has truly changed my life and I hope the live of multiple youth. I would recommend this program to anyone that wants to make a difference. Youth are the future of our society and they should be nurtured and guided in order to be successful adults and make this world a better place for us all.

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!