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Quarterly Update - October to December 2023

As I reflect on 2023, I am so grateful for how CASA has grown and what we have accomplished with your support. I am inspired every day by the changes we are making in our community, helping children and their families heal, grow, and thrive. 

Right before the holidays, as we were decorating the CASA house and arranging holiday gifts, a former advocate stopped by with a 22-year-old. They said they were just in the neighborhood and wanted to pop in to say “hi,” reminiscing about the many memories they shared together here many years ago. It just touched my heart that our CASA House remains such a safe and loving place in our community’s hearts, long after a child’s case has closed.

As always, there were changes with our community partners this quarter. Because we couldn't bear to say “goodbye,” we simply said “see you around” to Judge Timothy Schmal. Since 2020, he has been a powerful ally to CASA and the children and youth we serve in the Dependency Court. That being said, we warmly welcome Judge Erika Ziegenhorn and look forward to working together in the coming years.  

And the composition of those we serve and how we serve them continues to evolve. We have several youths on probation visiting the CASA house with their Advocates, including one who recently made French toast which was quite delicious. Some of these youth on probation are being reintegrated into the community after being detained. They have shown incredible strength and resilience. It is an honor to witness them uncover their interests and help them build a brighter future as they train for new careers, further their education, and participate in healthy social activities.

However, some things at the CASA house are consistent year after year. This quarter was a season of holiday parties at the CASA House, full of joy and squeals of delight from children ages 1 to 21! Halloween and Dia de los Muertos brought kids in costumes, a bounce house, and lots of fun. In December, we held our big holiday party with many families making gingerbread houses, dipping marshmallows in a white chocolate fountain, and decorating ornaments. Two Advocates and the youth were previously matched with sung holiday tunes. That young man just turned 12 and he was already playing the piano like a pro!

Our hearts are full of gratitude to our holiday gift donors for bringing joy to the children and families we serve. Santa Cruz County Bank, Cal Giant Berry Farms, Twin Lakes Church, Live Like Coco, Santa Cruz Pickleball, Aurora Lowe Realtor, FedEx, New Brighton Middle School, Resurrection Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, and the several individual donors that provided gifts of toys, books, clothes, games, sports equipment, gift cards, event tickets, and so much more! Thank you!

Also, a very special word of thanks to Advocate Stacey Cooper and Hardy Quality Air for donating and installing a new heating and cooling system for the CASA House. We are so grateful for all you do! 

And now for some numbers from the quarter!

We served 127 children, 14 children of whom were newly assigned this quarter, waiting only a median of 33 days from referral to match.

·      31 were aged 0-59.6% of whom were newly assigned.

·      22 were aged 6-11, 9.1% of whom were newly assigned.

·      53 were aged 12-18, 13.2% of whom were newly assigned.

·      15 were over 18 years old, 13.3% of whom were newly assigned.

·      51% of children served this quarter were Hispanic or Latino.

·      79% were in Dependency Care, 16% were in Juvenile Justice, and 5% were in both (dual status)

Tickets for our 20th annual For the Love of Children Luncheon, hosted by the Friends of CASA are now on sale! We hope you will join us in support of our community’s youth as we raise money for the CASA Children’s Fund. Visit to learn more.

If you know of anyone who would like to volunteer a few hours a week making a difference in the life of a justice-involved youth, please contact us soon! We have stepped up recruitment efforts for Juvenile Justice Advocates and have created a series of videos which are now available on our website and YouTube channel. Please share them!

Best wishes to you and yours for a joyous new year!