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On Wednesday, June 6th, the Honorable Arthur A. Garcia swore in 14 community members as CASA volunteers—court-appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.

Many individuals attended the ceremony to support the new class of volunteers, including family, friends, current volunteers, and CASA staff. Frank Ritenour, a CASA volunteer currently on his 7th case, addressed the class, “If you show up when you say you will, do what you say you will do, they’ll remember that. They’ll remember you.”

After taking the oath, the newly sworn-in advocates were asked to say a few words. Rosa Coronado stood and told the room exactly why she became a CASA volunteer, “I’m not here for me. I’m here for the child. To be that difference for them.”

The newly appointed CASA volunteers join 202 other dedicated community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the county’s juvenile dependency court system. As officers of the court, they ensure that the children’s needs are recognized and best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.

“Our volunteers pledge to stay with the child until the case is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home,” said Kim Colby Davis, executive director of CASA of Santa Barbara County. “Our volunteers believe that every child has worth. And they put that belief into positive action by advocating fearlessly.

CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child weekly and are authorized to interview people in the child’s life such as social workers, attorneys, and teachers. They attend court hearings with the child and report their findings to the judge. There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 30 hours of training.

CASA will hold an informational session for new volunteers Thursday, June 14th in Santa Maria. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact Kim Colby Davis at [email protected] or call 739-9102 ext 2594.