Every day in Sonoma County, children are removed from their homes because they have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Through no fault of their own, these children are made dependents of the Juvenile Court and enter a world where an overburdened legal system sometimes cannot hear their voices.

These youth need a CASA advocate to provide consistent and personal support as they go through months and sometimes years of legal procedures. All too often, the children are moved from one temporary placement to another, never knowing what it is to have the comfort of a permanent home.

The CASA volunteer provides human contact that the youth need and the adult experience and savvy the court needs to make better decisions for them. Being a CASA makes a difference in the lives of these youth:

One CASA youth wrote, “If it weren’t for you, school would have been harder. If it weren’t for you, I would not have started school with new clothing. If it weren’t for you, I would not have had a wonderful senior year. If it weren’t for you, I would not have my CASA. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be me. Thank you.”

Juvenile court officials have identified an additional 50 youth who need advocates and CASA is appealing to Sonoma County residents to volunteer. If you care and have about 10 hours a month to spend, being a CASA can be a very gratifying work. A CASA is a powerful voice in a child’s life.

Millie Gilson, CASA’s executive director, said that there are approximately 155 volunteers, and hopes to recruit another 25 with the next training.

The spring training, which takes place over three-and-a-half days, begins Thursday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., then runs from from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, through Thursday, Oct. 10.

Classes are held at CASA’s office at the Los Guilicos complex near Oakmont in Santa Rosa. For more information and to sign up for the CASA training, contact Gilson at 565-6375.