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Advocacy group keeps kids in the game

Upcoming golf fundraiser to benefit abused Placer youth
By: Mackenzie Myers, Reporter
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2017 CAPC Golf Classic

When: registration/breakfast starts 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 20

Where: The Ridge Golf Course, Auburn

Cost: $150 per person, $500 per foursome (covers green fees, cart, meals, prizes and more; dinner-only tickets $50

Something as fun as an afternoon of golf, margaritas and door prizes could have a serious impact on improving the lives of local children. Child Advocates of Placer County is calling all golfers for a benefit tournament on June 26. Proceeds will help fund advocate services and mentoring for abused children across Placer County.

Funds from the tournament will go toward the organization’s three branches of operation. The first branch, Court Appointed Special Advocates, otherwise known as CASA, places an abused child with an adult volunteer who can speak on behalf of the child when his or her needs aren’t met. These children are often removed from their homes for safety reasons, according to program director Kathryn Mathews, but the goal is to eventually reunite the child with his or her parents when court orders have been met.

A second operation, youth mentoring, places an adult mentor with a middle schooler or former foster youth in need of guidance. They meet once a week for about six months.

The third branch of CAPC’s programs is family mentoring, which helps parents build life skills to prepare them to reunite with their child. According to Mathews, when a child is placed back with his or her parents after being in the foster care system, within three years that child will likely go back to foster care. CAPC aims to staunch that likelihood by teaching parents how to cook, budget and care for their children. She said this program serves about 25 parents per year.

“Many people think they don’t deserve a second chance, the parents,” Mathews said. “But it’s always in the kids’ best interest to be back with their parents.”

CAPC has over 200 volunteers working in these programs. Each volunteer receives 35 hours of training, which includes observing court cases, taking an oath before a judge and learning to navigate heavy topics. Children that come into the system face problems like parental substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, homelessness, sex trafficking, neglect and poverty.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t see middle-class, upper-class families,” Mathews said. She added that cases come from all over Placer County, not just stereotyped areas like Auburn and Colfax.

After a while, she admitted, the caseloads’ dismal material can take a toll, even though each volunteer typically handles one case at a time and an average case lasts about 18 months. But the work is not without its bright spots.

Mathews said that having volunteers working with children is crucial, because it shows children that someone cares about them even though that person is not being paid.

“A lot of these kids have seen some pretty bad things, and it plants a seed of hope that not every adult has made these mistakes or does these terrible things,” she said.

In her 10 years with CAPC, Mathews has been on four cases. One young man, whom she met when he was 9, is about to be married and is pursuing a career in social work, but still calls her periodically to check in.

Mathews has also connected with those outside her caseloads. In 2012, an 18-year-old girl who had been in the same foster home as one of Mathew’s cases found herself homeless. Since CAPC serves children from infancy up to 24 years old, the young woman called, asking for help.

Mathews was able to give her a hand and, in return, received a Mother’s Day card from the young woman last week.

“It reassures me of what we’re doing and it motivates me to stay in the game,” Mathews said.

For more information on the golf tournament, visit CAPC’s website at www.casaplacer.org.