As a volunteer Advocate in CASA’s Juvenile Justice Pilot Program, Larry was matched with 17-year-old Tyler* in August 2021. Since then, they have met consistently once a week, usually on Saturday afternoons. They walk around Tyler’s neighborhood or go out to eat. Most of the time, however, they simply talk in Tyler’s backyard.
While it took some time for Tyler to understand what Larry’s role as an Advocate was, he eventually opened up. No longer afraid to ask questions or initiate conversation, Tyler now not only asks about world events—of which he is highly interested—but also about Larry’s life. Tyler has even begun to share about his own, discussing his probation, his schooling, family circumstances, job hunting, and even his future. On occasion, Tyler’s parents even join and have conveyed their appreciation of Larry’s role as an Advocate and the time he spends with Tyler.
As part of Tyler’s support team, Larry participates in biweekly support group sessions of the FUERTE Wraparound (an intensive four-to-twelve-month program to address the mental health needs of children and youth on probation) with both Tyler and his very active and supportive mother. Larry has also been in contact with a few of the administrators at Tyler’s high school, who always has positive things to say, especially about Tyler’s good grades.
While often a difficult task, Tyler has been focused on and diligently finishing his terms of probation. And Larry couldn’t be more proud and says that Tyler “is very prompt, organized, smart, caring, and dedicated…These qualities will take Tyler a long way as he enters his next chapter in life. He will be an asset to any company or school that he lands with.” As his probation comes to an end, Tyler is ready to move forward, and Larry hopes to be there every step of the way.
Everyone here at CASA of Santa Cruz would like to express our sincere appreciation of Larry, his commitment to Tyler, and believing in Tyler’s resilience and ability to grow.
And we are well on our way to serving more young people, just like Tyler. We have now moved out of the Juvenile Justice Pilot Phase and have contracted with the former Juvenile Justice Division Director, to define and scale the program and to make it a permanent service. Additionally, our first fulltime Juvenile Justice staff member will be joining us on March 6th, allowing us to bring our much-needed services to more justice-involved youth in our county.