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Annual Report 2022


The stats are harrowing. In 2022, six out of every 1,000 children in Santa Barbara County were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect. That’s why the need for CASA volunteers is so great. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children who are in the protective care of the court as a result of abuse or neglect.

For many of these children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant in an otherwise chaotic life.

The children we serve have experienced significant trauma. The vast majority of children who are victims of maltreatment have suffered from neglect.

The impact of trauma can last a lifetime.

But there is hope. A relationship with a supportive adult — like a CASA volunteer — makes a difference.

Research has shown that:

  • A child with a CASA volunteer has significantly fewer placements than a child without a CASA volunteer.
  • CASA volunteers are highly effective in getting their recommendations accepted in court. In four out of five cases, all or almost all CASA volunteer recommendations are accepted.
  • A child with a CASA volunteer is less likely to reenter the child welfare system. The proportion of reentries is consistently reduced by half.
  • When a CASA volunteer is assigned, a higher number of services are ordered for children and families.
  • A child with a CASA volunteer is more likely to have better outcomes: children tended to perform better academically and behaviorally in school as measured by whether or not they passed all of their courses, whether or not they were expelled, and their conduct performance.
  • Children and youth assigned a CASA volunteer reported significantly higher levels of hope. A child’s hope has been linked to numerous positive outcomes such as academic success, overall wellbeing, increases in self-control, positive social relationships and optimism.

Information collected from kidsdata.org and independent research studies are cited on the National CASA/GAL website

FY 2022 Achievement Highlights

  • 283 CASA volunteers advocated for 497 children who experienced the trauma of abuse and/or neglect
  • 18,905 hours of service were donated by CASA volunteers providing $549,131 in value to the community
  • 66 new volunteers completed 35 hours of pre-service training to join our team of volunteer child advocates
  • CASA volunteers submitted 65 applications for children to receive life-long services through the Victim Witness Fund – a huge win to assure the child has the ongoing support after their case has closed.

Our Impact

CASA volunteers help children access services that promote healing.

CASA volunteers are trained to understand the impact of trauma on children. They spend time with a child and the people in their lives. They talk to service providers, teachers, doctors, family members and social workers to gather information that will help them make informed recommendations to the court.

Based on what they learn, our volunteers advocate for services that may include medical, dental, educational, or therapeutic treatment, to help children develop resilience and promote healing.

How are CASA volunteers different than social workers, attorneys, and others working with children in court?

  • CASA volunteers are assigned to only one child at a time, or occasionally a sibling group
  • Our volunteers stay involved on the case from the time of appointment until the child’s case closes
  • CASA volunteers are specially trained to consider issues relevant to the best interests of the child, which may be different than the interests of other parties or the child’s wishes.
  • Volunteers give the gift of their time — priceless to a child.

Meet Gracie

Some children make you work extremely hard for a smile, a laugh, or a glimmer of happiness.

8-year-old Gracie is one of those kids – and no one would blame her after hearing what she has been through. From an early age, she witnessed countless instances of domestic violence. Her parents had a tumultuous relationship aggravated by drug and alcohol use. Gracie was seven years old when the court determined that she was not safe in her home and placed her in a safe foster home while her parents had the chance to recover from addiction and learn new parenting and partnership skills.

CASA volunteer Donna started advocating for Gracie right away, but quickly noticed that she was the most stoic child she had ever met. With more than 10 years as a CASA volunteer, she had never had to work so hard for a smile. It became a challenge – what is going to help this child feel the happiness she deserves? What is going to help this child be a child?

CASA Donna got Gracie a brand-new backpack and matching water bottle for back to school thanks to some CASA donors – Gracie said “thank you” quietly and moved on.

Then, Gracie got suspended at school for fighting.

Desperate to find a way to help this child, CASA Donna investigated therapeutic horse-riding classes. She was able to push to get the paperwork all signed and submitted, and Gracie had her first session scheduled.

Then it happened – the bright smile CASA Donna had been waiting for.

Gracie was in awe of the horses and treated them gently, with compassion, and care. Quite remarkable for a child who has only known violence. She looked so comfortable on top of the horse and had a giant smile on her face. It was obvious that this was just what Gracie needed. CASA Donna’s smile may have been even bigger, seeing the outcome of her persistence and dedication to helping Gracie find hope through the chaos that had taken over her life.

With hope, comes resilience. With hope, comes healing. With hope, comes a brighter future.

Gracie’s time in the foster care system is far from over. Her parents are working to reunify with her but that comes with so many challenges. Now, though, Gracie has new tools and an outlet to work through her past trauma. CASA Donna is committed to Gracie’s safety and will advocate for her needs as they come. Right now, she is simply happy to see Gracie smiling.