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Morgan Hill
April4, 2020

South County mentors needed for foster care youth

Child Advocates of Silicon Valley is in need of more Morgan Hill and Gilroy community volunteers to serve as friends, mentors and advocates for children in foster care.
Three Information sessions are scheduled in Morgan Hill over the next three months for those interested in learning about what it takes to participate in the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program. All three will be from 5-6pm at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Road, on Jan. 9, Feb. 7 and March 6.
Child Advocates recruits, trains and supports Court Appointed Special Advocates, known as CASAs, to work one-on-one with children in foster care. A training session for new volunteers will take place in April.
CASAs provide critical emotional and educational support, ensuring that each child’s needs are met and their voice is heard while they navigate the court dependency system, according to Child Advocates.
“We know CASAs make a tremendous difference in a foster child’s life,” said Karen Scussel, executive director of Child Advocates. Scussel noted that only 58 percent of all foster youth in California complete high school. But with the support of a CASA, foster teens fare much better. Last year, 95 percent of Child Advocates’ teens completed their high school requirements.
“We need CASAs in South County now more than ever,” Scussel added. “A growing number of children in the dependency system are being placed in foster homes in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. It really helps these children to have a CASA from the community to help them make connections and settle in.”
Child Advocates has an ambitious strategic plan to provide a CASA for every child in the county foster care system by year-end 2021. Currently, there are more than 1,500 children in the county’s dependency system—1,200 of whom would benefit from a CASA. This year, Child Advocates hopes to serve more than 900 children, according to a Jan. 3 press release.
Laura Fulda, Child Advocates’ Director of Community Development, said the organization is particularly interested in recruiting male and Latino advocates.
“Half the children in foster care are boys and 70 percent are Latino.” Fulda explained. “It’s important that these children have role models and mentors that reflect their cultural background. Teenage boys, in particular, need male role models.”
Currently, Child Advocates has more than 150 foster children waiting to be matched with a CASA. No legal experience is necessary—just a willingness to reach out to a child when they are feeling most vulnerable. The time commitment is 10 to 12 hours per month, and volunteers must be 21 years or older to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Individuals interested in becoming a CASA volunteer can visit Child Advocates’ BeMyAdvocate.org to sign up to attend an information session to learn more about the role and requirements of becoming a CASA volunteer.
We need CASAs in South County now more than ever. A growing number of children in the dependency system are being placed in foster homes in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. It really helps these children to have a CASA from the community to help them make connections and settle-in.

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