Learn more about Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) training | TheUnion.com

Learn more about Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) training

Submitted by Melinda Douros

The CASA program was started 40 years ago by a judge in Seattle who felt that he did not have sufficient information about the needs of the abused and neglected children with open cases in his courtroom, and for whom he was making life-altering decisions. The judge conceived of engaging well-trained and supported community volunteers to spend time with children in the child welfare and dependency court systems, develop a supportive and trusting relationship, and communicate information about the child's needs, wishes and circumstances so that the judge could make the most informed and best possible decision about the child's future. Thus the Court Appointed Special Advocate – CASA – program was born. Today, CASA volunteers number about 90,000 and work with a quarter million children a year across the nation.

The CASA program in Nevada County, under the name "Child Advocates of Nevada County," has been serving children in foster care for 25 years. Successful program applicants complete a thorough screening and background check, undergo a 35-hour training, and after being sworn in as an officer of the court by the judge, work collaboratively with social workers, attorneys, therapists and other professionals to ensure that the child with whom he/she works is receiving good care and all the other services needed to promote healing and growth. CASAs also endeavor to find ways to make the child's life a bit easier through enrichment activities, new experiences and emotional support.

For those interested in exploring the possibility of becoming a CASA in Nevada County, CASA staff will be at the following locations for drop-in conversations about how the program works, what to expect, and how to serve children who, through no fault of their own, are in the dependency court system.

Grass Valley: Starbucks, 681 Freeman Lane, 4 to 5:30 p.m. on July 9, 23 and Aug. 6.

Lake of the Pines: Northridge Restaurant, 21515 Higgins Rd., 3 to 4:30 p.m. on July 10, 24 and Aug. 7.

Alta Sierra: Trailblazer Craft Pizza and Brews, 15690 Johnson Pl., 5 to 7 p.m., July 12.

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Nevada City: Child Advocates, 208 Providence Mine Rd. #119, 5:30 to 7 p.m. on August 13 with Dependency Court Judge Scott Thomsen.

The CASA program provides two trainings a year. This year's fall training runs from September 10 through October 17 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays (no classes Oct. 1 and 3).

For more information and/or to apply to the program now, visit http://www.considercasa.com, or contact program manager Melinda Douros at Melinda@caofnc.org or 530-265-9550 ext. 222.