Alameda County CASA is a member of the National CASA Association and is one of more than 900 CASA programs nationwide. CASA is jointly overseen by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, the CASA Executive Director, and the Presiding Juvenile Court Judge. The Friends of Alameda County CASA, Inc. is the 501(c)(3) organization made up of local community members who support CASA by raising public awareness and funds to support CASAs work.
CASA volunteers working with adolescents ages 13-17 assist their youth in developing positive, self-sufficient behaviors that will ease their transition from foster care to independence, as well as ensuring their youth have their educational needs met and that they are headed toward high school graduation or equivalent. They often focus on encouraging goal development, promoting secondary education, and may assist youth with employment and college applications. CASA volunteers often encourage youth to participate in available therapeutic services to increase their emotional well-being. They help ensure youth have the skills and resources needed to transition into stable and healthy adulthood.
In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children without enough information. He conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these children in court. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA movement. Today, there are more than 93,000 advocates (CASA Volunteers) in over 950 state and local program offices nationwide. CASA programs across the country are known by several different names, including Guardian ad Litem, Child Advocates and Voices for Children. Since the inception of CASA advocacy, volunteers have helped more than 2 million children find safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive.
Alameda County CASA recruits, trains, and supports committed volunteers to stand with the young people of Alameda County when they need it most. These mentors learn the personal stories of their youth, provide fun life-enriching experiences to help them grow, and advocate for them in a variety of situations. CASAs collaborate with child welfare and legal professionals to assist the youth in legal proceedings, family visitations, educational support, and medical and mental health needs. CASAs promote healthy choices and support independent living skills that lead to higher education, positive relationships, and purposeful lifestyles. Sometimes their most valuable role is being the most trusted person in a child’s uncertain life. Our volunteers often forge bonds that last into successful adulthood.
Vital learning and growth occur early as children ideally meet physical and developmental milestones. CASA volunteers working with children ages 0-8 play a crucial role, observing the child and their environment; they collaborate with the child’s professional team including child welfare workers and attorneys and request additional resources to support and enhance the child’s physical and emotional development. Reading to and playing with the child helps their brain development and increases both gross and fine motor skills. Preschool to third grade, particularly literacy skills, lay the foundation for the rest of the child’s schooling. Communication with caregivers and other team members is critical as the child cannot fully express their thoughts and needs.
CASA volunteers working with pre-adolescents are assigned to children ages 9-12. As a crucial age where educational patterns and competencies continue to emerge, CASA volunteers working with this age group often focus on educational advocacy. They may participate in the development of their child’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), and request needed evaluations and services. They work with teachers, respond to disciplinary actions, and work one-on-one with their child and the caregiver to improve attendance and grades and keep the child on track for promotion to the next grade level. This is also a critical time to encourage prosocial development.
Young people may opt to stay in extended foster care from age 18 to their 21st birthday. As they are adults, they must directly apply and provide consent to receive CASA program services. CASA volunteers provide a unique combination of mentorship, coaching, and advocacy, assisting youth as they learn what it means to be an adult. Foster youth have experienced trauma and transitioning into adulthood can be harrowing. Unlike young people who have the safety net of family support, independent foster youth must immediately find employment to become self-supporting, secure/maintain safe and affordable housing, and/or finish high school, attend college, trade school, or participate in another career development program. Without a safety net and often lacking support and guidance, such milestones may seem completely out of reach, causing overwhelming stress and anxiety, and increasing the potential for failure. CASA volunteers assist their youth in finding employment, applying for college, and establishing lifelong healthy habits. They also encourage their youth to practice positive social-emotional behaviors, while helping to ensure that their basic needs are met during the difficult transition from system-dependency to independence.
Every child needs someone in their corner. For children and youth facing the complex foster care system, that trusted adult can be hard to find. Through no fault of their own, these children are often separated from family and face a constantly shifting world of temporary homes and intervening professionals. Having a dedicated advocate to help them navigate the challenges while providing compassionate personal guidance is invaluable asset for young people looking to reach their potential.
Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocates (ACCASA) is a member of the National CASA Association, which has helped ensure the security and wellbeing of more than two million children across the United States. We recruit, train, and support committed volunteers to stand with the young people of Alameda County when they need it most. These mentors learn the personal stories of their youth, provide fun life-enriching experiences to help them grow, and advocate for them in a variety of situations. CASAs collaborate with child welfare and legal professionals to assist the youth in legal proceedings, family visitations, educational support, and medical and mental health needs. CASAs promote healthy choices and support independent living skills that lead to higher education, positive relationships, and purposeful lifestyles. Sometimes their most valuable role is being the most trusted person in a child’s uncertain life. Our volunteers often forge bonds that last into successful adulthood.
ACCASA relies on quality volunteers and sustaining donations to continue our mission. Your support as a volunteer, donor, or partner has a profound effect on the future of each child, on the strength of families, and on the fabric of our community.