The change was motivated by the CASA team’s desire to expand their mission and thus be able to serve more young people, YES’s Executive Director Sarah Springfield explained.

The private nonprofit agency Court Appointed Special Advocates, better known simply as CASA of Siskiyou County, has rebranded itself as Youth Empowerment Siskiyou (YES). The change became effective on Tuesday, according to a press release from the agency. The CASA program will remain the flagship program of the agency, which will now advocate for trauma-exposed, foster or at-risk youth, the press release explained.

The change was motivated by the CASA team’s desire to expand their mission and thus be able to serve more young people, YES’s Executive Director Sarah Springfield explained. Three years ago, CASA partnered with Camp Hope America to send eight kids to Kidder Creek camp. Two of the eight kids were not foster youth. Springfield explained that while those two children had had many of same life experiences and challenges as foster youth, they weren’t receiving the same services because they’re not in the foster system. That was an eye-opening realization for the CASA staff, she said.

By expanding its mission and becoming YES, the organization can now serve those non-foster youth who have experienced trauma and are “at risk,” whereas before it could not provide services to those children as CASA exclusively serves foster youth.

YES will serve not only foster youth, but youth outside the foster system who have been exposed to domestic violence, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or other forms of family trauma.

Youth Empowerment Siskiyou is now the umbrella agency supporting both the CASA and summer camp programs. The mission expansion enables YES to serve any youth age 0-25 who has been exposed to trauma, is in the foster care system or is at-risk, the press release explains.

For now, the transition from CASA to YES is primarily an “administrative, structural change,” Springfield explained. The change will also allow YES to apply for funding for Camp Hope, which was not previously possible, and will allow for the hiring of a staff member who will focus exclusively on the camp side of things.

It will also mean cutting overhead and pooling resources to allow YES to more efficiently serve more local children and their families.

“The Board of Directors and staff are confident that restructuring will strengthen both the CASA and summer camp programs individually. The change will also allow for the addition of other programs serving youth and families in the future, based on the needs of our community,” YES detailed.

Springfield added that YES’s goal following this restructuring is to have its own building, rather than renting as is the case currently. This would give the agency a space that feels more like a home than an office, complete with an outdoor area for kids to play. YES plans to eventually launch a capital campaign to make that dream a reality.

Community members with questions about the rebranding are invited to contact members of the Board of Directors or staff. Springfield can be reached at (530) 841-0844 or sspringfield@yesiskiyou.org. Christine Todd, president of the Board of Directors of Youth Empowerment Siskiyou, can be reached at ctodd@siskiyoucu.org.