Give a foster child the gift of Christmas

For most children, the Christmas holidays are an exciting time. They look forward to seeing family, big dinners and, of course, presents under the tree. For many children in the foster care system, the holidays are a time of worry and concern. They worry about whether they will see their parents or brothers and sisters. They worry about whether they will receive anything for Christmas. Going back to school after the holidays can also be challenging for children in these circumstances. Many of their friends get new clothes and shoes or the latest trend in toys or gadgets. Sadly, for many of these children, there are few, if any, presents for them. Lassen Family Services Court Appointed Advocates Program is asking our community to help make a foster child’s holiday season a happier one by sponsoring a child or children and giving them the Gift of Christmas.

Any time a child has been removed from their home because of abuse or neglect, it can be scary for the child. These children end up in the foster care and dependency court system where their cases are usually open for 12 to 18 months. They are away from their family and many times have to change schools. There are lots of adults deciding what’s best for them. Sometimes they get lost in the system and feel they are not being heard. That’s where a CASA comes into the child’s life. A CASA is appointed to a child or children during this very difficult time and makes sure the child does not get lost in the system.

Lassen Family Services CASA Program thoroughly screens and trains adult community volunteers to help these children navigate the dependency court system. The volunteers complete a comprehensive 32-hour training and are sworn in by the family law judge as an officer of the court. They are appointed to a child or children in the dependency court system and learn everything they can about the children so they can make fact-based recommendations to the court as to what is in the best interests of the children, what services the children need, what the children’s wishes are, and determine if the child’s needs are being met. They also make recommendations as to what is the appropriate placement for the children which could mean being reunified with their parents or stay in foster care until mom and/or dad are ready to provide a safe, permanent home for their children. If the parents are not able to provide a stable home, the child can be adopted or another adult can become a guardian.

While social workers, attorneys and foster placements can change, the CASA volunteer is the one person in the child’s life that is there for that child during the entire dependency court process.

How you can get involved

There are currently 49 children in Lassen County who have a CASA appointed to their case. They range in age from newborn to 17 years of age. CASA staff has created a list of children who have a CASA volunteer. Only their gender, age and a reference number are listed due to confidentiality. We ask community members to choose a child or children to sponsor for the holidays or make a donation toward a child who does not have a sponsor so that all children on our list receive a gift or gifts. Keep in mind that many times an older child does not receive a sponsor.

All donations to the CASA Program stay local.

For more information, call 257-4599 or email lfscasa@lassenfamilyservices.org.

Don’t forget to share the idea of giving the gift of Christmas with your co-workers, schools neighbors, clubs, and family.

Deliver your unwrapped gift(s) to our office no later than noon Monday, Dec. 12. If you are unable to deliver the gifts(s) contact us to arrange for pickup.

You can also make a monetary donation that will be used specifically to sponsor a local foster child. Send your check or money order to Lassen Family Services, P.O. Box 710, Susanville, CA 96130 or drop off at 1306 Riverside Drive, Susanville.

Be sure to note on your check “CASA Christmas 2016.” This will ensure your donation is applied directly to the CASA Program.