An organization which aims to be the voice for abused and neglected foster children in the justice system expanded from Fresno to Madera many years ago, but continues to struggle to get more volunteers locally.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Fresno and Madera Counties, commonly known as CASA, provides trained volunteers appointed by courts to represent children in legal proceedings. The advocates go beyond that, however, as they’re involved in ensuring that the children they represent receive proper education, medical services and home placement. Advocates also serve as mentors, as they develop relationships with the children through the duration of their cases, said Nathan Lee, the executive director for CASA.
“Our volunteers get a case and they have three main things that they do. One is to provide information back to the court. So they go and do pretty extensive investigation as to how the child’s doing in the home, in their education, in their medical care, and then they write a court report every time there’s a hearing,” said Lee.
“The second thing is that if there’s problem that they discover, like maybe at school. Sometimes foster kids have behavior issues because all the trauma comes out in various ways. Advocates will work to help resolve those issues, communicating with the social worker and all that. Then the third thing is they build a relationship with the kids and that’s really important because often times kids can be moved from home to home or they’ve been removed from their families so they don’t have that tie to their family. So the advocate becomes a mature, kind presence in their life,” said Lee...