CASA of San Mateo County Provides a Safety Net for Foster Youth

By Giving List Staff   |   November 17, 2023

When Alyssa was 15, she came under court protection due to physical abuse. In the foster system, she endured 17 different living situations in six years, understandably facing significant mental health challenges throughout her youth. 

Thankfully, with the help of CASA of San Mateo County, Alyssa didn’t have to face this alone. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nonprofit organization that trains volunteers to advocate for young people in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. In addition to their courtroom advocacy work, volunteers also serve as mentors, spending time with their CASA young person each week to provide fun activities and emotional support. 

Nkia Richardson, Executive Director of CASA of San Mateo County, describes CASA’s work as “creating space where young people feel seen and heard. It lets them know that they have someone in their corner.” 

Richardson joined CASA of San Mateo after years of practicing in Los Angeles’ dependency court. Coming from a family that itself welcomed foster kids, she has long understood the value of the kinds of support CASA volunteers often provide – a net for youth who might normally “fall through the cracks.” 

Daria, the CASA volunteer assigned to Alyssa, changed the trajectory of her life. They first connected over a shared love of animals and volunteered together at animal shelters. Daria brought a consistency to Alyssa’s life that had been previously lacking as the pair faced Alyssa’s life challenges together. When Alyssa became pregnant at 17, Daria took her to medical appointments, accompanied her on visits to the ER, signed her up for prenatal classes and, after the birth of her baby, encouraged her to complete high school. 

Now an adult, Alyssa appreciates the far-reaching benefits of her experience with CASA. She says, “A CASA volunteer is someone who comes into your life, who wants to help you with your goals, your education, your coping skills, and your mental health. You can depend on this person; they’re taking their time to be in someone else’s life.”

Alyssa is now a certified nail technician and is looking to start her own business to support herself and her daughter. Through her connection to Daria, Alyssa has learned a lot about healthy relationships and is beginning to build a loving home for her own family. Daria is also part of that community, as Alyssa considers her not only a friend and mentor, but family. 


CASA of San Mateo County

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(650) 449-7371
Director of Development: Leila Watkins


CASA of San Mateo County pairs children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems with community volunteers who provide one-on-one support, mentoring and advocacy in the courtroom and beyond. Our caring and dedicated CASA volunteers help children heal from trauma and access the services they need to thrive.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

I’ve never been close to anyone before, and my CASA is the first person I’ve let get close to me. That’s what I like, that our relationship can be honest. [My CASA] can tell me how it is: ‘You kind of messed up on that part, but you can do better next time.’
Jeremy, CASA Teen

Be an Agent for Change – Provide an Advocate for Vulnerable Youth

A $5,000 donation helps support one CASA volunteer and the youth they work with over the course of a year. Your donation would provide training and support for the volunteer, as well as needed supplies and activities for the youth (such as a computer for school, new shoes, or registration for a soccer team).
You can be the agent of change and make all the difference for a young person who needs CASA to support them, represent them, and help them heal and thrive.

Key Supporters

Andrew and Judy Mendelsohn
Betsy and Peter Chung
Box, Inc.
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Crown Family Philanthropies
Gus Panos
John Stephenson and Beth Walsh
Joseph W. Welch Jr. Foundation
Kaiser Permanente
Kerns Fine Jewelry
Laura and David Krane
Michele and John McNellis
Peninsula Health Care District
Quest Foundation
Renee Van Dieen
Sequoia Healthcare District
Sobrato Family Foundation
Sumir Chadha
Violet M. Johnson
Family Foundation
Wollenberg Foundation