When the Sonoma County Juvenile Court Judge assumes jurisdiction and finds a child to be a dependent of the court, many different professionals enter the case. These include social workers, minors’ attorney, and attorneys from County Counsel, the Public Defender’s office, law enforcement officials, and counselors. Everyone involved has some interest to represent and while their intent is to serve the child, none of these professional’s time is focused solely on the child’s esteem, daily well being, personal desires/needs and interests.
The Sonoma County Juvenile Court’s objective in assigning a CASA is to provide a single consistent person who will take the time to mentor, advocate for and keep the interests and welfare of the child a priority. Serving as a complement to the deposition of the case, CASAs can provide the companionship and self-esteem enhancing support needed during a time of turbulence and confusion.
The CASA of Sonoma County Program provides representation without charge to children between the ages of birth to twenty-one, who have been adjudged dependent children of the court under Welfare and Institution Code Sections 300 and 602. CASA is one of 44 similar programs across the state and 900 across the United States. We are a member of the National and State CASA Associations.
- To reduce the trauma of children in the Juvenile Court dependency system by matching a child with a trained CASA volunteer who will offer support through a long-term consistent relationship. The volunteer will explore and recommend resource options available to the child and offer the child guidance in understanding and dealing with the complex, unfamiliar court and child welfare systems.
- To advocate vigorously for the rights of abused and neglected children in Sonoma County ensuring that all “reasonable efforts” have been made for a child at every stage of the court dependency process.
- To improve the quality of information presented to the Juvenile Court, on behalf of the child, by informing the court of the child’s adjustment and state of mind by gathering relevant information and making appropriate case recommendations documented in a written court report.
- To develop and implement a sound program management plan with a comprehensive strategy for the recruitment, retention, supervision, and training of a competent volunteer corps that is ethnically, racially, and linguistically representative of the population to be served.
- To serve 180-200 abused and neglected children annually
- To provide supervision and support to the 160-180 active CASA volunteers
- To assist these volunteers in submitting 300-380 court reports documenting their child’s life and needs
- To work in collaboration with the children welfare system, the courts and the child to assure that the child’s need are met and heard
- To remind the community that abused and neglected children need our help