Marina Bernheimer: May is ‘Foster Care Awareness Month’
California has approximately 60,000 children in foster care who have suffered significant trauma due to abuse or neglect. Each one of these children deserves love, care, a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.
For this reason, every May is commemorated as Foster Care Awareness month to shine a light on all the children who are in the foster care system through no fault of their own and to honor the community that supports these children.
We salute the foster parents who take these children into their homes and give them safe, nurturing environments; social workers who make sure the children and their families get the support and services they need to reunify; attorneys who represent the children’s rights and best interests in court; therapists who help these children heal; and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers who stand by them and advocate for them as long as they are in foster care.
At Child Advocates of Nevada County, our CASA program has served approximately 100 foster children countywide in the last year by providing them with the vital gift of a CASA. We know what a difference showing up for a foster youth can mean.
CASA volunteers provide support, guidance, and friendship to a child during a very traumatic chapter in their lives. A CASA volunteer meets with their assigned child, attends court hearings on his or her behalf, develops a safe and trusting relationship, advocates for his or her educational, social/emotional and medical needs, and provides input to the judge and social worker to assist with planning for reunification with biological parents or permanent placement in an adoptive home, depending on the best interest of the child.
CASA volunteers receive extensive training to understand the dependency court system, how to work with traumatized youth, and how to advocate effectively for vulnerable youth inside and outside the courtroom. CASAs have a profound impact on the life of a child and promote a healthier community in the process. Child Advocates of Nevada County offers CASA trainings twice each year, in the spring and the fall.
If you are interested in learning more about the CASA program and how you can serve a vulnerable child in our community, please contact Melinda Douros at Child Advocates at 530-265-9550, extension 222.
Marina Bernheimer is the executive director of Child Advocates of Nevada County
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