BAKERSFIELD - Many children in Kern County are getting new voices as more than a dozen people get sworn in to become court appointed special advocates to better serve children in the foster care system.
People interested in volunteering at CASA of Kern County go through 35 hours of intensive training and the work these participants will be doing starts almost immediately.
Local teacher, Mary Alice Finn saw the great need for court appointed advocates and has been working towards being that stable person in a child’s life.
“I’m a new mom, and I see that children grow so quickly and they change so quickly and I think being there for a child as they go through that since their own parents maybe can’t be there all the time is an important thing to do,” said Finn.
Juvenile Court Judge Louie Vega appointed 14 casa volunteers to be the eyes and ears for the court and a voice for the children.
“They’ll be presenting reports to the court that will be used to make decisions as to what kinds of situations children should be in or be moved from just give in sight so the court can have a broader picture” he said.
Leaders with the organization say neglected children in our community are taken from their homes and placed into temporary foster care every day because their parents cannot or will not take care of them.
“Well, I think people in general want to see healthy young children become healthy adults and hopefully become parents that unfortunately they didn’t have and they understand the importance of being a good parent,” said Vega.
Funding the program can be a challenge but with community support and the generosity of foundations like Bank of America, leaders with the group can continue their important work.
“Those funds are going to go right back to our program. It costs us roughly $2,000 a year per advocate to support and train them through out the entire year so, the funds will go directly towards that in serving more children in Kern County,” said Amy Raddatz, community outreach coordinator for CASA.
So far, CASA has had 56th graduating classes and is currently seeking applicants for its new cycle of training.