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Special Advocates

Meet Our Volunteers

 We are indebted to our passionate and hard-working CASA First Volunteer Advocates who give of their heart and time to ensure that every local child who is in foster care is safe and has the opportunity to thrive.

Scroll through the photos below to see some of our Volunteer Advocates in action!

What Do CASA Volunteers do?

CASA Volunteer Advocates work both in and out of the courtroom. They build relationships with the children, family members, and foster caregivers. They work in concert with the judges, lawyers, social workers, service providers, parents, and teachers.

The CASA is appointed as an officer of the court and is responsible for making recommendations to the judge regarding the future permanent placement of each child. The CASA Volunteer Advocate submits written and verbal recommendations to the court that assist the court in decision making. Part of a CASA’s role is also helping children figure out what they need to thrive, including help to prepare them for their future and providing them with helpful services.

CASA Volunteer Advocates come from all walks of life, with a variety of educational and ethnic backgrounds. We especially welcome those with lived experiences in foster care to become CASAs. There are more than 62,000 CASA volunteers nationally and more than 60 are active annually in the First Judicial District (Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties).

More About Our CASAs

Change a Child’s Story

CASA First (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the New Mexico First Judicial District believes every child who has been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community.

To accomplish this, CASA First educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who advocate for the best interest and enhance the lives of children who are in the foster care system as a result of abuse and neglect.

When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what is best for the child.


Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

For children who have been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible.

Children with CASA volunteers are more likely to end up with their families and according to National CASA, more likely to receive therapy, health care and education and be in school. They are also less likely to be bounced from one place to another, languish in long-term foster care or re-enter into the foster care system. 

CASA’s vision is to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in need in our community. In 2018, over 170 foster children in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba were matched with CASA volunteers.

Encourage Positive Change

For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place. CASA volunteers come from every walk of life. What they have in common is a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn, and open minds towards life experiences different from their own.

Before they begin their work, volunteers complete an interview, background checks and 30 hours of intensive training and courtroom observation.

After being sworn in by a judge, a volunteer is appointed to a child or family of children and spends an average of 10-15 hours a month, for at least a year, advocating for these children. The volunteer gets to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, care-givers and anyone else involved in the child’s life.

Judges highly value CASA’s recommendations, which help them make informed decisions in the child’s best interest.

The New Mexican Newspaper interviewed one of our CASAs, Nancy Gehman, as “One of the New Mexican’s 10 Who Made a Difference in 2017.”

Read full article here

Jessica Henderson
Volunteer Coordinator

466 W. San Francisco Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

(505) 820-1500