Thirty-five years ago the first CASA program was created by Seattle Judge David Soukup. Judge Soukup had spent too many sleepless nights worrying about the life-altering decisions he made in juvenile court. How could he know what was truly in the best interest of the child when there was no single person in the courtroom whose only job was to investigate the facts and represent only the child? The answer to his concerns came in the form of trained citizens—CASA volunteers. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Today, there are 946 CASA programs and 77,000 CASA volunteers nationwide standing up for abused and neglected children. Yet our volunteers reach only one third of the children in need. California alone reports more than half a million cases of abuse per year and more than 80,000 children in foster care. And it happens right here in San Benito County, where every year there are hundreds of reports of child abuse or neglect and many children are at risk. CASA of San Benito County has been serving children from this community since 2008. CASA advocates are volunteers appointed by a Judge who step into these children’s lives, giving them a voice, a listening ear and a hand to hold. The advocate then provides feedback and recommendations to the court for the best possible outcomes.

As we honor National Child Abuse Prevention Month, are you interested in making a difference in a foster child’s life, become a CASA advocate and be part of this national movement? The next training starts at the end of this month. To sign up or for more information, contact Esther at CASA of San Benito County 831-637-4992 or stop by our office at 829 San Benito St.,Ste. 200, Hollister.