Eight new Court Appointed Special Advocates have joined Child Advocates of Nevada County to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children in our community. Having completed a thorough screening, background check and a 30-hour training, the new advocates will assist the Nevada County child welfare and court systems by acting as the eyes and ears of the judge and the voice of children who have been removed from home because of abuse and neglect.
Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers with a variety of careers and life experiences. Some are retired attorneys, psychologists, and educators. Some are homemakers, nurses, and business owners. They have in common a deep concern and active commitment to the well-being of Nevada County’s children.
Each advocate is partnered with a child or sibling set over whom the court has taken jurisdiction. The advocate spends time listening to the child and learning about what is going on in the child’s family and foster home. Court Appointed
Special Advocates are given authority by the court to examine school and medical records, speak with teachers, doctors, therapists, and other service providers. They work together with social workers and attorneys to gather and share information that ultimately will help the court decide what is best for the child, in the present and in the future.
Not only do Court Appointed Special Advocates help the court decide where and with whom a child might ultimately live, but they identify resources that will help the child in the here and now. They find scholarships that enable foster kids to attend summer camp. They help find donations of music lessons, sports equipment, prom dresses, tutoring. They play Frisbee, eat ice cream, take walks, and hang out with kids who have felt forgotten and powerless. Court Appointed Special Advocates let kids know they matter, that their voices can and should be heard.
There are many professionals who work with these frightened and wounded children, showing them care and respect. But the caseloads are large and the workers very busy. Court Appointed Special Advocates can focus on one or two children in order to best identify their needs and desires and communicate them to the court.
CASA is a national nonprofit organization that trains and supports volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children. With an advocate, a child spends an average of eight fewer months in foster care, and is half as likely to re-enter the child welfare system.
Kids with Court Appointed Special Advocates are more likely to receive needed services, do better in school, and are more likely to find a secure and safe home.
Child Advocates of Nevada County has about 50 Court Appointed Special Advocates, enough to serve 40 to 50 percent of the local children in dependency court. But every child who needs a Court Appointed Special Advocate should have one, and Child Advocates’ goal is to serve them all.
For more information about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate, call 530-265-9550, visit www.caofnc.org, or email Melinda@caofnc.org.