Contact: Kelly Douglas, President & CEO, 858-569-2019, firstname.lastname@example.org
Voices for Children Says New National Appointment for San Diego Judge Will Benefit Youth in Foster Care Locally and Nationwide
- Judge’s long-time support for CASA programs will help volunteers continue to advocate for children in foster care.
- Judge holds 20 years of experience serving children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Voices for Children congratulates the Honorable Ana L. España on her appointment to the National CASA/GAL Association for Children Judicial Leadership Council, where she is one of the judicial officers who provide expertise and support to benefit children who have experienced abuse or neglect across the country.
The purpose of the Judicial Leadership Council is to provide input and recommendations on ways to engage local judiciaries on a continuing basis regarding the establishment, development, improvement, maintenance, and expansion of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) programs. Additionally, the council will strengthen and develop ongoing relationships between judicial officers, the national association, and state and local CASA and GAL programs.
In this role, Judge España will bring the perspective of a judicial officer to National CASA/GAL Association’s work on developing a network-wide growth process and strategy. As a former supervising attorney representing children and youth in the dependency system in San Diego County, and now as presiding judge of the San Diego Superior Court’s Juvenile Division, Judge España has seen first-hand the influence and impact of a CASA volunteer on a child’s life and on decisions made by juvenile court judges. Judge España is a long-time supporter and advocate of the CASA program and Voices for Children.
In 2019, Voices for Children surveyed San Diego County Juvenile Court judges about CASA volunteers. One-hundred percent of participating judges strongly agreed CASAs help the court make informed decisions regarding a child’s well-being and mental and physical health. As the presiding judge for San Diego County’s juvenile court, Judge España’s ongoing support for the CASA model will allow organizations, like Voices for Children, to extend support to more children who are currently in the foster care system.
“Judge Ana España has dedicated her career to supporting children and youth in the child welfare system and, as a result, she knows the powerful impact of a CASA volunteer,” said Kelly Capen Douglas, president and CEO of Voices for Children. “Her strong leadership, exceptional professionalism, extensive experience, and genuine care for children will be a tremendous asset to the National CASA/GAL Association’s work to support CASA/GAL programs across the country. We extend our congratulations to Judge España and thank her for her unwavering dedication to the children we serve.”
“It has been my career-long passion to help and advocate for children who have experienced abuse and neglect,” said Honorable Ana L. España, presiding judge of the San Diego County Juvenile Court. “I’ve seen firsthand how a CASA volunteer can change the trajectory of a child’s life. By serving on the Judicial Leadership Council, I’ll be able to help make it possible for more children to have a consistent, caring adult in their lives and ensure more judges across our country have the benefit of a CASA to help them make the best decisions for the children under their care. It is an honor, and great responsibility, to be entrusted with making a positive difference in the lives of our children.”
“All of us at the California CASA Association congratulate the Honorable Ana L. España on her appointment to National CASA/GAL’s Judicial Leadership Council,” said Sharon M. Lawrence, CEO of the California CASA Association. “As the presiding judge of the Juvenile Court in San Diego County and as a former supervising attorney representing children and youth with the Public Defender’s Office in the dependency system, Judge España has the understanding and expertise to make significant recommendations for the improvement of services to families and the advocacy of our CASA volunteers in court. She serves on the Judicial Council of California’s Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee, and thereby also brings a depth of knowledge on foster care policy and procedural changes occurring in our state. As a mother herself, Judge Ana España brings great compassion and care for all the children she sees in her courtroom. We are very proud that she will represent the California CASA network as a member of National CASA/GAL’s Judicial Leadership Council, and we thank her for her commitment to children, youth, and their families in the foster care system.”
ABOUT JUDGE ESPAÑA:
Judge Ana España is the presiding judge of the San Diego County Juvenile Court who was appointed to the bench by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008. She has presided over juvenile cases since January 2018. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge España represented children and youth in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. While serving as a deputy public defender with the Primary Public Defender of San Diego County, she was recognized as one of the state’s leading child welfare advocates. During her time there, she created the Office of Children’s Counsel which was tasked with representing children in the welfare system. In 2011, Judge España was the recipient of the Outstanding Legal Advocate Award from the National Association of Council for Children.
Video of Judge España speaking at Voices for Children’s Advocate University
ABOUT THE NATIONAL CASA/GAL JUDICIAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL:
The Judicial Leadership Council was formed in 2018. It is composed of up to 15 judicial officers representing jurisdictions from multiple states, court structures, tribal courts, and rural, suburban, and urban communities, with varying tenure, experience and skills. Judicial officers include active and retired judges, presiding judges, appellate judges, commissioners, referees, or otherwise designated judicial officials exercising or having exercised jurisdiction over children who have experienced abuse or neglect in any court.
About Voices for Children
Founded in 1980, Voices for Children (VFC) transforms the lives of abused, neglected, and abandoned children in foster care in San Diego and Riverside Counties by providing them with trained, volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). CASA volunteers advocate for a child or sibling group in court, school, and in the community to ensure their needs are met. VFC believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home, and strives to provide a CASA volunteer to every child in the foster care system who needs one. Last year, VFC CASAs and staff served more than 3,700 children in foster care across San Diego and Riverside Counties. For more information, visit www.speakupnow.org.
About the National Court Appointed Special Advocate®/Guardian ad Litem Association for Children
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children, together with its 950 state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every child who has experienced abuse or neglect in the United States can be safe, have a permanent home and have the opportunity to thrive. National CASA/GAL offers leadership and support to the network of programs and leads its continued growth. CASA/GAL volunteers and staff work every day to advocate for children, youth and families. To learn more, visit nationalcasagal.org.