GONZALES — CASA of Monterey County is looking for adults who are willing to meet with foster children and advocate for their needs and is hosting a free information session in Gonzales next week.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nonprofit organization that helps children in the foster care system by pairing them with trained volunteers who advocate for them.
“We do have a number of foster children living in South County and we would really like to engage more volunteers,” said Kathryn Pernet, recruiter for CASA.
Volunteers are required to go through a five-week training course and must complete a very thorough background check. Volunteers need to be at least 21 years old and have an insured vehicle.
“Once they do pass the training, they become sworn officers of the court as well as mandated court reporters,” Pernet said.
Volunteers select a child to work with. Currently more than 60 children have been put on the CASA list and are waiting for an advocate.
“We’re looking for volunteers that are willing to commit to that child,” Pernet said. “Life in the foster care system is extremely chaotic.”
The organization does not partake in placing children into foster homes and the children do not visit volunteers’ homes. However, CASA volunteers are encouraged to meet with their foster child two to three times a month for about 12 to 16 hours monthly.
“Just be an adult that they can turn to,” Pernet said.
The informational session is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 4, at the Gonzales High School Library, 501 Fifth St., from 6 to 7 p.m.