Teresa Rothe Tardiff, the longtime executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of San Luis Obispo County announced her retirement recently. The nonprofit CASA has helped thousands of children in crises successfully navigate the court system without charge.
“During my 19 years with CASA of San Luis Obispo County we have recruited and trained hundreds of volunteers, who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of local children facing incredible hardships through no fault of their own.” Tardiff said. “Throughout this time the standing of our staff and volunteers has increased in the court and child welfare community so that now the input of our advocates is sought out and valued.”
Tardiff, an attorney, has fought tirelessly for San Luis Obispo County children in foster care, many of whom were victims of abuse and other crimes.
“I’m proud of what we at CASA have accomplished, thankful to the CASA staff and especially the volunteers for standing up in the court and community for foster children,” Tardiff said.
Fighting for San Luis Obispo County youth facing hardships takes hundreds of volunteers, a lot of money and a highly coordinated effort. It’s an ongoing battle for justice that Tardiff has successfully led locally for close to two decades.
“We have secured millions of dollars in grant money to enable our critical mission of advocating for local children, most recently through the Victims of Crime Act, which recognizes that children who experience abuse or neglect are crime victims,” Tardiff explained. “We have developed a positive reputation with donors in the community who have continually risen to the occasion every step of the way to meet every need our organization has faced. I can’t thank our donors enough and I can assure them that every dollar raised was carefully and thoughtfully invested to benefit kids in crises.”
Spending decades advocating for kids in crises has given Tardiff a keen insight into the difference one caring adult can make in a child’s life. “I truly believe that CASA volunteer advocacy is helping to break the cycle of abuse, neglect and poverty,” Tardiff said. “Children with a CASA volunteer learn another way of life where they are heard and celebrated. They learn there are people in this world who care about them and their families, people who stick around. I’ve been around long enough to see children we served a decade or more ago become healthy, contributing members of the community, volunteering as advocates, and becoming great parents themselves.”
The chief executive officer for the CASA state organization, California CASA, recognized the substantial contribution Tardiff has made.
“Having been involved in the CASA network for more than 25 years, 20 of them as CEO of Voices for Children, the largest CASA program in the West, I have been fortunate to interact with many exemplary leaders,” said Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq., CEO, California CASA Association. “Without question, I count Teresa Tardiff among them. In her 19 years of dedicated service at CASA of San Luis Obispo County, Teresa has transformed the lives of thousands of children and families by leading an outstanding CASA program. Her retirement leaves a huge void in our California CASA network of 44 local programs, but an even larger void in her community. All of us at the California CASA Association are grateful for her many accomplishments and contributions to our field, and we wish her well.”
Tardiff said she plans to stick around San Luis Obispo post retirement. “I plan to spend time with family and friends,” she said. “Especially outdoors, with my dog, Tali.”
CASA is in its 29th year of providing advocacy for court-dependent children in this county who have been abused and neglected. Most of the youth CASA serves live in foster care and face many challenges to their health, education, and general well-being. It is the dedicated CASA volunteer who becomes the child’s advocate and trusted, consistent adult, regardless of changes to the child’s school or place of residence. In fiscal year 2020/2021, CASA provided an advocate to 316 children and oversaw volunteers who logged over 12,000 hours to improving children’s lives.
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