CASA — It’s all about the kids
“It’s for the kids!” auctioneer David Sobon repeated many times during an evening fundraiser at Rancho Olivo Vineyards in Cameron Park last Saturday. The “kids” Sobon was referring to are those currently being served by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) here in El Dorado County.
With projected cuts of $55,000 from the Superior Court next year the success of this local fundraiser became even more critical. I met with John Adams, the fairly new CASA executive director, recently and he conveyed deep concern over the potential impact of losing financial support for the 50-or-so foster kids this loss in income represents. All totaled this loss accounts for 12 percent of CASA’s annual budget.
From what John stated it appears our county CASA efforts far outshines other like programs available across the state. In 2009 for example, our local CASA served 439 children, a 75 percent assignment rate at a cost of approximately $1,100 per child compared with a statewide average of 34 percent at a cost of $2,400 per child.
In other words, because of our efficiencies, we’re capable of providing service to more children in need.
But like most other statewide social service agencies in this troubled economy, funding is being cut and/or reduced drastically.
This put a greater emphasis on making last Saturday’s fundraiser a success.
And judging by the generous bids heard around the dinner tables on the lawn, during the live auction, along with the enthusiastic energy of auctioneer Sobon, it appeared this year’s CASA event was quite successful.
Prior to the live auction, Judge Steven C. Bailey praised CASA for its efforts. According to Judge Bailey, he interacts with CASA almost daily in his courtroom. He emphasized that what CASA is doing makes a difference in the lives of youth at risk. And without the program many kids would simply fall through the cracks of our society.
As Mountain Democrat reporter Mike Roberts reported this week, half of foster youth become homeless within 18 months of exiting the system. And most face much higher than normal chances of drug and alcohol abuse, violent crime, incarceration and teen pregnancy.
El Dorado County has its share of abused and neglected children. In many cases their biological parents have failed them. Because of a parent(s) neglect, criminal activity, or lack of moral compass, their children are subjected to a difficult life. CASA becomes the hope, in some cases the last hope, for many children to break free of their past and current circumstances and have an opportunity for a better life.
What CASA advocates do today with at-risk children determines the future of these children and how they adapt to society tomorrow. The program’s success is in the best interest of the court and our community.
Their mission statement reads in part: “Together with our community’s involvement and generous support, we will positively impact the lives of our children.”
Judging by those in attendance last Saturday and their outpouring of financial generosity I’d say CASA will be in a sound position next year — because there’s a lot of folks living here whorealize the importance of “doing it for the kids.”
Richard Esposito is publisher of Village Life. Contact him at [email protected].