Enabling our children to be free from abuse | TheUnion.com

Enabling our children to be free from abuse

I have the honor of being recently elected as the new board of directors president for Child Advocates of Nevada County. I wanted to take a moment and share with you what Child Advocates does and some exciting changes that have taken place over the past year.

We are very fortunate to have a passionate board of directors, a talented staff and several hundred devoted community volunteers. Working together, we are delivering critical children services across our community, endlessly striving to help all our local children grow up free from abuse and neglect.

The terms “extra,” “bonus” or “nice to have” do not apply whatsoever to the services we deliver. The services and programs provided by Child Advocates staff and volunteers save, recover, and enhance children’s lives. They make a real and tangible difference in our community. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic or self-important here, especially since I personally do not do this work directly, but I observe from a distance the impact it has on the lives of our local children.

Child Advocates delivers four major programs, each with a goal to enhance a child’s life and enable him to live it free from abuse. Our founding and cornerstone service program is CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. We train a CASA volunteer to help a child through the legal court process after something bad has taken place and the child has been removed from the custody of his parents or guardian. A child needs and deserves a spokesperson — an objective adult to provide independent information about the best interests of the child to the judge, social workers and attorneys assigned to the child.

… I observe from a distance the impact (Child Advocates of Nevada County) has on the lives of our local children.

The other three programs are preventive services designed to keep children from ever needing a CASA in the first place and to prevent child abuse and neglect.

• Foothills Truckee Healthy Babies promotes positive bonding and family relationships from the start. Our home visitors assist an expecting or new mother and her family with the challenges and stress that can get in the way of caring for a newborn.

• Welcome Baby visitors greet new mothers in the hospital and provide community support and resource information before she goes home with her newborn.

• Child Safety Puppeteers harnesses the talent and creative energy of high school student volunteers to bring a message of personal safety to young children in our schools.

Our small nonprofit has gone through a major transformation this past year. The Healthy Babies program grew through an expanded Federal/State/County contract by three-fold. This required us to move from our small “old house” location to modern office space. Staff really enjoy being in modern space, and it is helping to move our organization forward. In addition, it enabled us to open a small Truckee office to deliver this program to our east county families.

We are eagerly anticipating our 20-year anniversary of serving Nevada County’s children in 2013. Over this period, many amazing past board members, staff and volunteers have built a solid and remarkable foundation in the Child Advocates organization. There have been a lot of changes over the years, and we are excited to step up our efforts in sharing how we enhance children’s lives.

There is so much more that we can do for our local children. Just in CASA alone, we have the resources and ability to provide an advocate for about 50 percent of the children who really need one. We want that to be 100 percent, our children deserve that, and it makes such a difference. We can only reach that goal with continued and increased community support and with more dedicated CASA volunteers. As a vibrant and active community service provider, our foundation is solid, proven, and this goal and others we have are certainly achievable with your assistance.

From becoming a volunteer, buying a box of See’s candy from our store, attending an event, to making a donation or serving on our board of directors, there are ample opportunities for everyone to engage with us and help our local children.

I personally feel very fortunate to be part of such a wonderful organization. I am deeply moved with each new story from our staff and volunteers on how a child’s life has been affected and enhanced by the services they provided. Please visit http://www.caofnc.org to learn more about Child Advocates of Nevada County and how you can participate too, or you can contact me directly at steve.t.monaghan@gmail.com.

Steve Monaghan is president of the board of directors of Child Advocates of Nevada County.

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