More than 500,000 children live in foster care in the United States. These children were abused or neglected and then removed from their families and the place they called home. Sadly, many can become a victim a second time in an overwhelmed child welfare system that does not allow for close attention to each child and their needs or wants.

Each day in California, 70 children who have been abused or neglected join the state's population of nearly 80,000 children in foster care. California is home to nearly one-fifth of all foster children in the United States. In Stanislaus County, there are over 600 children in foster care at any given time. As dependents of the juvenile court, these children pass through a court system which can leave them frightened, confused and alone.

Our Staff


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Steve Ashman is the Executive Director for CASA in Stanislaus County. In addition to his role as Executive Director, he also represents over twenty children in foster care as their CASA volunteer. A credentialed teacher, he is also a national trainer for the AVID program. A recognized expert in the field of Special Education Law, Steve has trained judges, social workers, attorneys, probation staff, and school district staff on Education Law and statutes related to those in foster care. He has also served on the National Governor’s Board Policy Committee on Education and has worked to develop policy changes to benefit all dependent youth in California and their educational outcomes. The recipient of the 2017 Stanislaus County Bar Association's Liberty Bell award and the proud father of three (including a child adopted out of foster care), Steve is a passionate advocate for all children, especially those marginalized by their circumstances.

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A Modesto resident for over 20 years, I left briefly and attended California State University, Chico from 2000 to 2004, and graduated with a BA in Psychology. After college I began working for the Girl Scouts of America in the Modesto office as an Outreach Leader and Teen Mom Program Leader. This gave me an opportunity to work with under-privileged girls and young women to try to make a difference in their lives. The experience made me want to pursue new ways to reach out to youth in need. I attended graduate school at California State University, Stanislaus and I began substitute teaching grades K-12 for Modesto City Schools and the Manteca Unified School District. I graduated from CSU Stanislaus in 2010 with a MA in School Counseling and PPS credential. After graduation, I began working as a school counselor for multiple schools and districts. When I found CASA, I realized that this program offered an opportunity for me to help those youth most in need. CASA is where I have found my calling and a way to make a significant difference in a child’s life.

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I have lived in Modesto for most of my life. I was adopted at very young age into a loving home with four other siblings who were adopted as well. I am currently in school working towards my BA in Sociology. I previously worked for the Children's Crisis Center of Stanislaus County (a nonprofit serving abused, neglected and/or at risk children). I worked with children on a daily basis along with working in a support position in their administration office. I was sworn in to be a CASA Advocate in the summer of 2015. Being a CASA is awesome! I have dedicated my career path to serving Foster youth as this population of children has a very special place in my heart.

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I am a recent Modesto transplant although I have lived at intervals in the Central Valley for the majority of my life. I grew up in Sacramento County, completing kindergarten through college there (Go Hornets!) Following college I married the handsome Dave and for a few years lived the crazy life of a Navy wife; which included moving every 6 months. Once my husband's enlistment was up, many more adventures followed with our little family (we have two brilliant daughters) and eventually we landed in Kings County where we lived for 15 years. In 2013 we moved to Modesto as empty nesters. Dave and I had always said we would volunteer for CASA when our daughters left for college. Dave set up an appointment for an interview and I crashed it. We both became advocates in May of 2014 and have really enjoyed our experiences advocating for our CASA children. It is with great pleasure that I have now become a part of the CASA of Stanislaus County team as a case manager. 

Cheryl staff pic


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I moved to Modesto from the Bay Area in 1992. I have been married to my best friend, Joe, for over 30 years! We have a big, beautiful, fun, crazy, loving family that are the light of our lives. I attended MJC, where I studied Child Development. I have always had a passion to work with children. As a substitute teacher, I worked in a lot of low income schools where the needs for the children were great. Sometimes their only meals were those they had at school. I looked forward to seeing those precious little faces walking into class every morning. Just to see a smile on their face would make my whole day. Even though I felt like I was making a difference, I still wanted to do something more. My heart led me to becoming a CASA Advocate in 2011, to work with children in the foster care system. I really believe in the CASA Program and that I/we can make a difference in a child’s life! When the opportunity presented itself to join the staff here at CASA of Stanislaus in 2014, I knew it was where I was supposed to be!


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I was born and raised in Turlock. I have one amazing, loving, smart, wild son who is only 3 yrs. old. He has significantly changed my life for the better and has pushed me to achieve things I never thought I would have been able to do. I became more familiar with CASA through the Executive Director and other Case Managers as they gave me knowledge on what they did. Once I was more acquainted with CASA I decided I wanted to be a part of it and be able to make a positive change in a child’s life. I am looking forward to being able to grow and become more experienced with all of the CASA staff.




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 Bio Coming Soon!

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is a diverse and committed group of individuals working as a team guiding our program to maximize our ability to serve the dependent youth of Stanislaus County. It includes:


Susan Coelho Mattos - President
Former Chief of Police, City of Hughson

Margeley Bernal - Vice President
RE/MAX Executive

Paula Jones - Treasurer

Jen Dittman - Secretary
Stanislauc County Office of Education


Tom Aja
Retired - IBEW

Natalia Diryawush

Guy Miligi
TSM Insurance

Nana Redell
Retired - Teacher

Alana Scott

Monica Faulve-Duncan

Jim Toal
Wing Stop

Lenita Williamson, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Our Honorary Board includes the following supporters:

Susan and Art Azevedo

Jeff Bettencourt, CPA

Anthony Cannella, California State Senator

Cathleen Galgiani, California State Senator

Adam Gray, California State Assembly Member

Randall Hayashi, DDS

Will O'Bryant

Kristin Olsen, California State Assembly Member

Paula Tremayne, D.O.

Art Weisberg

The History of CASA and Our Mission

1977 - Judge David Soukup in Seattle, Washington formed the first volunteer program for child advocates. Word of the success of that program spread quickly and similar programs began all over the United States.

1982 - The National CASA Association was established to serve as a support organization for the growing number of programs in the country.

2002 - CASA of Stanislaus County was formed by members of the local community led by Presiding Judge William Mayhew and Presiding Juvenile Judge Marie Silveira.

2003 - On August 27, 2003 our first CASA case appointment was made. The advocate assigned, Cindia Julsgard, is our senior Case Manager and an active advocate to this day.

Today - CASA of Stanislaus County is a team of 60+ volunteers trained and supervised by the CASA staff and overseen by our CASA Board of Directors. We serve hundreds of abused, abandoned, and neglected Stanislaus County children each year giving them a voice and hope for a brighter future.


To provide quality advocacy services for all abused and neglected children in the dependency system through the use of trained volunteers.


CASA of Stanislaus County is a passionate community organization that provides every child received through the court system with personalized advocacy and support. Our goal is to provide a safe, permanent, nurturing environment for every child served.