North County Court Appointed Special Advocates continue ‘Giving Voice to the Children’

On Saturday, May 4, the nonprofit organization Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will host its third annual Hope for the Future fundraiser from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Paso Robles Inn, located at 1103 Spring Street, Paso Robles. The event welcomes people to dine in elegance and savor local wines while offering bids on silent and live auctions and features the return of its famous Cake Auction.

In San Luis Obispo County, more than 460 children are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court because they were abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents with approximately 40 percent of children in the foster care system being placed in the North County. Hope for the Future was launched in 2017 to gain more financial support for CASA to serve the children living in Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton and the outlying towns in the area.

Many of these children live in foster homes, moving from one residence to another with appalling frequency. CASA’s trained volunteers provide a consistent source of support to these children, advocating for needed services and appropriate placement until a permanent home is found. Funds raised at Hope for the Future are used for recruiting, screening, training and supervising volunteer advocates.

As the only nonprofit organization working for the juvenile court, CASA is in a unique position to help children who’ve experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect. After completing a training program provided by the nonprofit, volunteer advocates are assigned a child or sibling group and these volunteers become a consistent adult figure in the lives of children during a very uncertain and stressful time.

CASA of SLO County, in collaboration with must! Charities, has significantly increased its presence in the area, recruiting more volunteers and serving more of the children living there. At the end of 2018, a total of 67 volunteers were assigned to 89 children in the North County, increasing the number of children served in the area from 33 percent to more than 54 percent in the past three years.

Since 2017, North County Program Manager Melanie Barket regularly staffs the new CASA office in Atascadero, allowing volunteers to meet with supervisors in the North County office instead of being forced to travel over the grade to meet in SLO.

“Spending time with the children, whether reading to them, going to the park or visiting the library, allows the volunteer to learn about the child’s or children’s needs and desires, all of which are considered when making recommendations in the child’s best interest to the juvenile dependency court,” said CASA SLO Executive Director Teresa Tardiff. “Many CASA volunteers find the experience of advocating for their child more rewarding than anything they have ever done.”

For more information on the CASA or to volunteer, visit slocasa.org or call 805-541-6542.