Ready to Advocate: Yuriko’s Advocacy Journey

Following the coordination of a successful online fundraiser with her brother that raised over $40,000 for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, generous Yuriko Shotter was ready to do more. In February 2022, she became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer.

“I was eager to SHOW UP for foster youth. When I finished the volunteer pre-service training, I told my CASA Supervisor Marika, ‘I’m ready,’” said Yuriko.

After coordinating an in-person visit with the social worker assigned to her youth, Yuriko didn’t know what to expect but was very excited to meet 11-year-old Ginny. When the day arrived, Yuriko and the social worker pulled up to the foster home where Ginny and her younger sisters, Molly and Luna, were giving each other manicures on the front porch. Having experience with doing nails, Yuriko was able to connect instantly with Ginny.

During their weekly visits, the pair try new food and explore new activities, including opportunities provided by Child Advocates. Yuriko brought Ginny to the agency’s scholastic event, Adventures in Bookland Bash, where the youth received free books and participated in enriching activity stations. Additionally, Yuriko coordinated with Molly and Luna’s assigned CASA Volunteers to take the sisters to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, courtesy of the agency’s partnership with the amusement park.

Besides spending quality time with her youth, Yuriko has made it a point to STAND UP for Ginny in areas where the youth needs more support. After going through distance learning during the pandemic, Ginny developed academic struggles. Yuriko gave her youth flashcards as a study tool and is learning how she can best support Ginny as her CASA. An idea she learned from the agency’s CASA Summit was the power of celebrating small successes. Yuriko partnered with Ginny’s teacher to coordinate academic celebrations for Ginny. Yuriko gave the teacher pre-stamped postcards that the teacher can send to Ginny throughout the school year to celebrate her work and boost her confidence in her academic performance.

“It’s important for these kids to feel special and that someone is rooting for them.”

This coming fall, Ginny and her siblings’ dependency case is having their 18-month court hearing. This is a pivotal court hearing that would determine if the children will be reunified with their mother or enter a placement selection & implementation hearing. A selection & implementation court hearing determines the best permanent placement plan for foster children when reunification is no longer an option. Yuriko is ready to LIFT UP Ginny’s voice in Court.

“As a CASA my role is to advocate for what my youth needs and wants, which is to stay in a supportive environment,” Yuriko explained. “If reunification happens, I’m going to advocate for the best transition possible.”

Although the Court’s ruling isn’t set until the near future, Yuriko has made a personal commitment to always be there for Ginny no matter the outcome of the case.

“From day one Yuriko has been enthusiastic and dedicated to enriching her youth’s life,” said Marika. “In her thoughtfulness, Yuriko has supported her youth in building strong relationships with her siblings and makes her youth feel special, which makes her a truly amazing Advocate.”

Disclaimer: The story is based on Yuriko Shotter’s experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer. Some details about the foster youth she serves have been altered in an effort to keep the youth’s identity anonymous.