BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County known as CASA graduated its 81st class Wednesday evening. The graduates are all volunteers who have received 52 hours of training that taught them to help children who have experienced circumstances like abuse, neglect, and trauma.
"We’re very excited to be graduating ten advocates today because we have 43 children on the wait list and with 10 graduating advocates we’ll be able to target ten more children, but we still have a need," said CASA Community Outreach, Maritza Lara.
With this graduating class, CASA will now have served it 3,000th child in the juvenil dependency system.
"There's a great impact that these advocates have in these child’s life," said Lara. "They are the only caring, consistent adult in this child’s life. Their social worker is constantly changing, their foster home. So, having that one adult follow them wherever they go makes a great impact in their life."
The graduates will now be matched with foster children and be an advocate for the child's best interests and needs. But, other children are still waiting on the wait list for their very own advocate, especially boys. CASA says they typically prefer to be paired with male role models.
"A low percentage of our advocates are male. So we aren't able to match them with a role model that they can look up to or even open up to. A lot of them don't have a male figure in their life."
Ian Journey is the only man to graduate in this class and he urges people to join.
"With eight to ten hours a month, you can make a huge impact in a child's life," said Journey. "I think we’re really planting seeds and breaking the cycles of getting these kids out of the system. I think that anything we can do as men to pass along to the young boys and to the younger generation is a worthwhile cause."
To learn more about CASA or volunteer, you can visit their website. Their next orientation is June 13 at 12:15pm at Covenant Coffee.