Within Placer County, on an average year, about 800 kids experience substantiated abuse or neglect, and over 200 of them are removed from their homes.
Child Advocates of Placer County received its non-profit status in 2004 with the mission to establish the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program for the Placer County Juvenile Dependency Court. We began slowly, serving fewer than 30 children in 2006. Then in 2007 we turned a corner, and by year’s end we had 49 volunteers serving 67 children. That growth trend continues today, in 2014-2015 we provided CASA volunteers and Mentors to 447 foster children and 101 at-risk youth and former foster youth, a 15% increase over the number we served in 2013-2014.
Our success with CASA led the Placer County Office of Education to award us a two-year grant to create the Adult-to-Youth Mentors (A2Y) program in 2009. Then in 2010 we received funding for Placer First 5 to create, Family Mentors, where we take Placer Mentor volunteers and specifically train them to serve at-risk parents.
All programs – CASA and Placer Mentors – utilize volunteers to serve our community. CASA and Placer Mentor volunteers help foster youth, at-risk youth and young adults build resiliency, self-confidence and self-sufficiency. We help them attain academic achievement and avoid the juvenile justice system, teen pregnancy, and drug and/or alcohol use. Family Mentors help at-risk parents create functioning households, so that they can reunify – permanently – with their children.
The ultimate result we want to see from our programs is an increase in community wellness. We want to see our youth make better life choices, succeed in school, and become happy, stable and contributing adults. We want our parents to reunify with their children and rebuild their families. And we want our volunteers to come away with a sense of accomplishment, an increased connection to their community, and a feeling of joy – the joy that comes from “giving back” in a meaningful way.
The results are life-changing for everyone.
Our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program provides CASA volunteers to foster youth – children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned and are living in out-of-home placements. CASA volunteers act as the “eyes and ears of the judge and the voice of the child”.
Placer Mentors provides volunteer mentors for children who are at-risk of entering the juvenile justice or child welfare systems, former foster youth who are transitioning into adulthood without family support and parents who are developing life skills that will help them successfully reunify with their children who are in foster care.