Helping to change the lives of local youth and keeping them on the right track is more than just a job for Alex Cardenas, it’s a passion.
Cardenas has been the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Imperial County for the past two years and in that time co-workers, former CASA directors and Superior Court judges have noticed his dedication to aiding the county’s abused and neglected children.
The goal of CASA program is to prevent abused and neglected children from becoming lost in the juvenile dependency system. The objectives of matching a CASA volunteer, a trained advocate from the community, is to ensure that the child’s best interest is represented in court. The volunteer has three essential roles as an advocate: To be the child’s voice in court, assist the court by researching and assessing the circumstances of each case, and continue to monitor the progress of the case as it moves through the system.
“We train volunteers to learn how the dependency system works within the courts so our volunteers visit the children on a weekly basis and become a friend of the child, encouraging parents to complete services to attain custody of their child, reunification is the goal of CASA” Norma Ruiz, senior case manager at CASA, says of the program.
“Alex has done a great job in recruiting new volunteers and getting the funds to maintain the agency open,” Ruiz adds. “He's very dedicated in collaborating with other agencies.”
“He's the director and he's basically everywhere with CASA,” Ruiz says. “He does a little bit of everything.”
Ruiz and case supervisor Michelle Betancourt say Cardenas is a considerate, understanding boss who makes CASA stay true to its acronym.
“Alex always says CASA is his home,” Betancourt adds. “He's like our support system. At work we have an open door policy he is always open to suggestions.”
Read more about Alex Cardenas in the September/October 2011 edition of Valley Women Magazine in print or our online E-Edition.