Children’s advocacy group celebrates 20 years
Child Advocates has been serving every aspect of a child’s life from pre-natal through adulthood for the past 20 years.
The organization is celebrating its 20th year anniversary 7 p.m. Friday at the Miners Foundry at 325 Spring St., Nevada City.
The event will include honorary Founding Executive Director Bobbi Swanson and a dance concert with Lorraine Gervais.
Child Advocates includes Welcome Baby, a free service available to all expectant parents in western Nevada County and the foothills, and Truckee Healthy Babies, which provides emotional and practical support to pregnant women and families of newborns.
Child Advocates also includes the Child Safety Puppeteers program, in which trained volunteers visit elementary children to provide accessible and age-appropriate information about safety and health.
Child Advocates also includes the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, in which a trained volunteer is paired with a student in the system and provides guidance to judges on the child’s situation.
Swanson said Child Advocates began with a $17,000 grant and focused at first on the CASA program. The following year, the organization received a $34,000 grant and the need for expanded services was recognized.
The organization eventually began collaborating with the drug court system during a time when 70 percent of the families involved with CASA were substance-abuse families, Swanson said, adding this has since ballooned to 90 percent.
“Getting started with the drug courts, which judges Carl Bryan and Al Dover pulled together, was a big step for treatment programs and recovery, so the courts could look more seriously at returning children to their home,” she said.
Dover said he became the family law judge and realized the importance of the CASA program and the volunteers, whom he described as “precious gems.”
“They were willing to go through a training, willing to make a commitment to a child and willing to show up in court if needed,” he said. “It was a big commitment. It took compassionate and wise people to do that work and that’s who they were to me,” Dover said.
“There was no more difficult decision than having to look at a parent, a mother or father and decide if they were going to continue to be a parent. It’s the hardest decision I ever had to make as a judge and to have the input of not just Child Protective Services, but these trained advocates for the child, was enormously important to me.”
Swanson said she is pleased with the expansion of Child Advocates and where it is today.
“(Executive Director) Laura Harter has done just a fabulous job,” Swanson said. “I’m very impressed with what she’s doing and what the program has expanded to be.”
The event costs $75 per person and helps to sustain the Child Advocates programs, the grant funding for which has decreased from budget cuts, Harter said.
“We want to keep these programs alive,” she said.
For information, visit caofnc.org or contact 530-265-4410.
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