Christine (Chris) Crawford is probably best known as the owner of Epilog Books, but today she spoke in her newest role as Director of the CASA program.  CASA (Court Appointed Special Agents) is one of 43 CASA programs in California serving as court appointed officers of the court advocating for children in foster care while the court is seeking a permanent resolution for a child’s placement. The program started in Seattle where a judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interest of abused and neglected children’s lives in court helping to ensure they will live in a safe and loving environment.  The program was so successful that judges across the country started using citizen advocates.  The U.S. congress encouraged the expansion of CASA in 1990 with the passage of the Victims Child Abuse Act.  There are over 900 national CASA programs with more than 70,000 volunteer advocates.  Currently in Plumas County, CASA serves 18 children in foster care or 40% of the foster care population.  The goal is to have enough trained, active volunteers to serve 100%.  This will require finding volunteers throughout the county. 

Volunteers talk with the child they serve as well as the people involved in the child’s life and provide a written report to the court with their observations, especially noting any unmet needs.  They also attend court hearings involving the child assigned to them.  Volunteers are not to have a ‘personal’ relationship with the children such as giving out their phone numbers or inviting children into their homes.  Volunteers are required complete 30 hours of training in a curriculum defined by state regulators with 12 hours of continuing education annually which they can obtain in several different ways.  CASA would particularly like to have more young people and more men to serve as role models for the youth involved in the program.  When asked how Rotary could help, Chris asked the members who have employees to promote and support participation from their employees by providing time off for them to serve, approximately 10-15 hours per month for meetings and court dates. 

Chris is the Program Manager and only paid staff person for CASA.  The Advisory Board members include Michael Bagley, Terry Clinch, Kathryn Fisher and Donna Wood.   Much of their effort involves helping to fund raise locally for CASA.  Other funding sources include the California Administrative Office of the Courts, Plumas Superior Court, National CASA grants and generous contributions of individual donors.  The grants from the California Administrative Office of the Courts are competitive and amounts awarded are based on the population, retention of volunteers, and the number of children in dependency.  Plumas CASA received one of the fifteen grants given this year which is not a guarantee we will receive the same amount in the next year.  There are 45 CASA programs in California competing for these funds.  Currently there are three fund raising projects in place which include the sale of Valentine candy, a chocolate heart on a stick made by Carey’s Candy, a valentine dinner at Bontaful Cafe in Blairsden and the Chairs for CASA, donated chairs painted by local artists including the students of Quincy High School art class.  You may find them at various spots around Quincy including Epilog Books.
Ed Thompson became our 50th member (sponsor Jim)
Michael Henry introduced his son, Jay Henry, a senior at Quincy High.  He is interested in football and acting.  His senior project is “Music is Medicine” a concert on February 21 featuring 3 performers.
Remember:  February 15  5-7 PM Raffle,    No meeting February 17