Right at Home
Estefany Can was eight years old when social workers removed her and her brothers from their home. Her mother was in a dangerous relationship with her stepfather, and drugs and domestic violence were an everyday part of life. When social workers removed the children for their safety, they entered a scary world of court proceedings and uncertain domestic situations.
Children like Can who enter the child welfare system are appointed an attorney. Still, those lawyers contend with enormous caseloads, making it nearly impossible for them to see their clients more than a few times each year. They have a social worker, but they are lucky to see them more than once a month, and social workers are working with many families at a time, with large caseloads and complicated case plans. Estefany Can, though, had Linda Curtiss.
A fiery Bostonian with a thick accent, Curtiss was a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County, which recruits, trains, and supports volunteer advocates for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Curtiss took her role as Can’s advocate seriously, and she made sure Can had adequate clothing and school supplies and got her into camp. When Can needed medical or dental care, Curtiss made sure the follow-through happened.
Curtiss followed Can through many foster home placements, and when Can was placed in a home in Palmdale, Curtiss drove three hours from Santa Barbara once a month to visit her. “She was always there for me,” Can says.
The kids that CASA serves are victims of abuse and neglect. Too often, domestic violence brings children into the system, and far too many have experienced sexual abuse. In recent years, it’s been drug addiction – 80 percent of the 544 children that CASA served last year were victims of the opioid epidemic, says Executive Director Kim Colby Davis.
“The most innocent victims of the drug epidemic are the kids,” Davis says. “It’s truly a crisis at this point. If not for the serious nature of methamphetamine and Fentanyl addiction, we would have so many fewer kids in the foster care system.”
Davis takes some comfort in knowing that the court will work to reunite the majority of the children with their families once the parents have become healthy and have proven they can provide a safe home for their children. This was the case for Estefany Can, who is 28 years old and working at Ergomotion, a company that makes adjustable bed bases. She’s close with her mother now, and thanks in part to CASA, she never allowed the challenges of her childhood circumstances to dictate the outcomes in her life.
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Associate Director of Donor Engagement: Kira Cosio
The mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County is to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for all abused and/or neglected children by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system.
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I am a direct product of the generosity of CASA donors. Because of you, I had moments of stability, normalcy and pure childlike happiness. On behalf of the children who benefit from having a CASA volunteer in their lives, thank you. I know that it is a choice to support CASA, with so many other worthy organizations, you chose CASA.
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To recruit, train, and provide ongoing support to every CASA volunteer requires $2,600. With more than 100 County children waiting, a $260,000 ask is completely within reason.
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Before this new wave of entries into the turbulence of foster care, CASA of Santa Barbara County found a way – with your help – to serve every single child in the system: speeding adoptions, reunifications, and setting these resilient young people on a path to success.
A more targeted intervention does not exist. Be a part of a foundational pillar of this community’s future today.
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