Child Advocates seek CASAs |

Child Advocates seek CASAs

Submitted To The Union

Photo submitted by Russell Yokom

At any one time, there are 100 or so children who are under the jurisdiction of our local court, 100 or so whose foundations have crumbled and whose innocence is gone. In foster homes, in group homes, with grandparents, they have all lost their moms and dads to some combination of addiction, mental health crises, poverty, violence, homelessness or incarceration. Some of them will, over time, be reunited with their parent(s). Some will be adopted by a new family. Some will grow up in foster care. All will suffer at deep levels, their childhoods infected by degrees with pain, loss and injustice.

Fortunately, social workers, therapists, attorneys and judges work hard to help them, but with that many kids in the system, these caring professionals are stretched thin. As much as they want to know and attend to each child's every need, it just cannot be done — unless that child has a CASA.

CASA stands for court-appointed special advocate. A CASA is a community member, a caring adult who is appointed by the court to focus on one child or sibling set. The CASA pays attention to that child, visits him or her every week, listens and learns what the child wants and needs. The CASA makes sure that the child is staying safe, is being cared for and is being heard. Having been vetted and trained, the CASA is an officer of the court and writes reports to the judge with recommendations for the child's present needs and future placement.

CASA is a program of Child Advocates of Nevada County, whose goal it is to provide a CASA to every child who needs one. Today there are 44 active CASAs in Nevada County working with 68 children, making a difference in all those lives. If you would like to help do the same, consider becoming a CASA.

Call Melinda at Child Advocates: 530-265-9550, ext. 222, or email Sign up for our informational meeting to take place March 19, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in preparation for our spring training from April 2 to May 9. Learn how the program works and meet Judge B. Scott Thomsen who will speak to the value of giving a child a CASA.

Being a CASA is a big responsibility. But so is the knowledge that there are children in need.

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For information, call Melinda at 530-265-9550, ext. 222, or email

League of Women Voters gun safety panel set for March 9

The League of Women Voters' March general meeting program will address a subject of vital concern to the American public: the proliferation of guns in society and the resulting violence.

What is the current legislation in California regarding gun ownership? How does it relate to federal legislation? Are the rights of gun owners threatened by current laws? Are these rights threatened by proposed laws? What are the statistics regarding gun ownership in Nevada County? What about illegal gun ownership? Last, what are the contributions of the mental health professionals in response to gun violence? These are just some of the areas to be addressed by a league panel on gun safety.

The following individuals have accepted the league's invitation to participate on the panel: Amanda Wilcox, advocate for legislation related to gun safety; John Foster, Grass Valley chief of police; and Peter Van Houten, MD, founder and medical director of Sierra Family Medical Clinic.

Refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m., followed by the program at 10 a.m., March 9 at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley.

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