Training available for foster children advocates in Nevada County | TheUnion.com
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Training available for foster children advocates in Nevada County

A trusted, caring and reliable adult can make a huge difference for a child in the foster care system.

That’s why nearly every child who enters the system is assigned a Court Appointed Special Advocate.

The role of a special advocate is to focus on a single child or sibling group, providing a listening ear and consistent mentorship. A Court Appointed Special Advocate also gathers information from the other adults in a child’s life — foster parents, lawyers and social workers — and reports back to the judge in charge of a child’s case.

According to Melinda Douros, program director for Child Advocates of Nevada County, there are between 75 and 100 foster children in Nevada County at any given time.

Child Protective Services and the Juvenile Court determine where and with whom children will live when their homes have been deemed unsafe due to parental substance abuse, mental health conditions or criminal activity, Douros said. Children in the system are assigned to a social worker, an attorney and often a therapist, as well as an advocate.

Douros coordinates the training and case management for special advocates in Nevada County, and said the advocates play a vital role in many foster children’s lives.

“CASAs learn the child’s struggles, sadnesses, fears, and triumphant milestones,” Douros said. “They document and ease the journey each vulnerable child endures while in foster care.”

She said the foster kids are often extremely grateful for the advocates who support them.

“We’ve had a lot of kids say to their CASA, ‘I don’t know what I would do without you,’ or, ‘I couldn’t survive this if I didn’t have you in my life,’” she said. “They’ve developed some very significant relationships with their advocates.”

The advocates are screened, trained and fully supported by Child Advocates of Nevada County. A 35-hour training program is required for those joining the program. Douros said people from all walks of life participate, and the best advocates have great communication skills and a desire to help kids.

For those interested in learning more about the program, an “Intro to CASA” workshop will be held Monday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Nevada City at 208 Providence Mine Rd., Suite #119.

For applicants accepted into the program, training begins Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 1. Classes are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Trainees who complete the program are sworn in as Officers of the Court on Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.

More information about the program, including applications, is available at http://www.considercasa.com.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.


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