Every year, CASA of Santa Cruz County serves about a dozen dual-status youth, meaning youth who are in both Dependency and Juvenile Justice Courts. Advocates are often matched with youth in one court and then enter into another to become dual-status. The caring relationship between Advocate and youth doesn’t change, but the required court reports, visitation, support services, and systems navigation does.
Advocate Sarah was matched with 11-year-old Hope* in 2017 while in Dependency Court. When Hope was 13, she was arrested for the first time and became a dual-status youth. Unfortunately, Hope has been in foster care since the age of 6, has had 16 placements, and has lived in several group homes. Her life has been full of trauma and hurt, and the pain can manifest itself with her behavior. When she would act out at a group home, breaking their rules, she would be sent back to juvenile hall.
For Sarah, learning the complexities of the Juvenile Court System and the Probation Department was a challenge after serving in Dependency Court for years. However, Sarah has the full support and respect of both Judges who read her court reports and ask her opinion at every one of Hope’s hearings. For the past five and half years, Sarah has continuously advocated for Hope’s needs. Sarah has been a consistent adult in Hope’s life, showing up time and time again, even in the most difficult times. Hope lets her guard down around Sarah and sees her as a trusted adult, and even created this Valentine for her last year. The two have fun together, and enjoy each others company. And, Sarah continues to support Hope, no matter what happens next, believing in Hope and her dreams for the future, which include attending community college and studying criminal justice.