Milpitas nonprofit swears in 22 advocates for foster youth

Bay Area News Group | September 24, 2023

By: Anne Gelhaus

Volunteers act as go-betweens for children, courts.

Volunteers from Morgan Hill to Mountain View were sworn in Sept. 19 as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) through Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, a Milpitas-based nonprofit.

The swearing-in ceremony, presided over by Judge Shawna Schwarz, capped a training process where 22 volunteers from nine South Bay cities learned how to serve as the go-between for children in the foster care system and court officials. Milpitas residents Kelly Rose and Luis Saavedra are among the new CASA volunteers.

“My goal as a CASA volunteer is to help kids and their families thrive,” new graduate Jorden Young of Morgan Hill said in a statement. “It won’t always be smooth sailing, but with our training and the support from our incredible CASA community, I am confident that we can make a real impact for foster youth.”

Volunteer training consisted of 30 hours of self-paced courses and presentations, both online and in person, that covered topics like child development, the dependency court system and inclusionary practices.

“We are continuously improving our pre-service training,” said Child Advocates CEO Frederick J. Ferrer. “This training included a lived-experience panel, which allowed our CASA candidates to hear firsthand perspectives from a current CASA, caregiver, social worker and former foster youth.”

The new CASA volunteers were well placed to address the needs of the foster children on Child Advocates’ waitlist, with five bilingual Spanish-speakers and seven advocates who identify as male. The nonprofit is seeking to recruit more males, bilingual Spanish-speakers and Hispanic volunteers.

View this article at The Mercury News.