Court Appointed Special Advocates annually honors an outstanding organization, educator and individual in Santa Cruz County whose special efforts help support children in the county’s foster care system.
In anticipation of the awards, Patch interviewed the three winners. This is the second of three Q&As where the honorees—in their own words—explain their motivation to serve.
Wendy Bailey, a foster parent educator, teaches people how to be foster parents through a program called SPARK—Successfully Parenting At-Risk Kids. She has been a foster mom for many children, and is a passionate and inspiring advocate throughout the community for the needs of youth in foster care.
1. How did you become involved with CASA?
I first learned of CASA during the time I was fostering children.
2. What has been your most meaningful experience with CASA?
One of my foster children had a CASA who had worked with her for years until she was finally adopted. The support and consistency that she provided for the child was one of the few things that helped her through her experience that included many changes in placement during her years in dependency.
3. What surprised you about working with CASA?
I have been surprised at the dedication and determination everyone has that is involved in CASA. Not just the CASA volunteers but also the CASA staff. They really want to see the best outcome for our children.
4. What other organizations in the county do you devote time and energy to?
I have been a foster parent for 16 years. During this time, I adopted three of my foster children. I have fostered close to 40 foster children. I work mostly with babies and children that have been prenatally exposed to substances. A county social worker and I, co-facilitate a support group for other foster parents. We also co-facilitate a group of classes called SPARK (Specialized Parenting for At Risk Kids). New foster parents take these classes to learn about the children they will be caring for. I am also a foster parent mentor. All of these programs are all through the Cabrillo College Foster and Kinship Education Program.
I have also been to UCSC with another CASA worker to present to the students, that take Infant Development, information about substance exposure in infants.
5. Obviously, not everyone has the time, ability or desire to work with children in foster care? What's one thing the average Santa Cruz County resident could do to help foster youth?
There are so many things that people can do to help the life of a foster child. Fostering a child is one of them, becoming a CASA is another. We need people to step forward. If you just want to help out at a different level by donating some time, or even items, you can call at 345-2700.
for their dedication to helping foster children at an event Monday evening in Watsonville.
Editor's Note: Who are the movers and shakers making a difference in Watsonville? Those who lead by example, change things around and make us better by challenging the status quo and having integrity? This is one installment in our .