Voices for Children
The mission of Voices for Children (VFC) is to transform the lives of abused, abandoned, or neglected children by providing them with trained, volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). CASAs are matched with a single child or sibling group in foster care. They visit their youth and learn about their strengths, interests, and goals. They gather information about a child’s education, mental and physical health, housing placement, and overall well-being to gain a holistic understanding of a child’s situation. When a CASA identifies unmet needs, they then advocate on a child’s behalf to ensure that the child has access to the resources they need. CASAs commit to serving for 10-15 hours a month for at least 18 months, but many serve for the duration of a child’s time in the foster care system. For many children in foster care, their CASA is the most consistent and caring adult in their lives.
This year, about 7,000 children will spend time in San Diego and Riverside County foster care. The overburdened foster system struggles to meet the individual needs of the children it is designed to protect. VFC exists to make sure the needs of children in foster care do not fall through the cracks. As an example of the positive impact CASAs make every day, we share the following story:
Twenty-year-old “Nate” entered foster care at the age of sixteen. In 2021, he was matched with CASA Stephen. When Stephen initially met Nate, he was living in large group home with staff members instead of consistent adult caregivers. He was working a part-time job at a local restaurant and preparing to graduate from high school.
After his high school graduation, Nate was no longer able to remain in his residential placement. He applied for a supervised independent living placement (SILP). Nate was excited to move into his own apartment for the first time. Unfortunately, Nate's new apartment was a two-hour bus ride away from his job. CASA Stephen recognized that Nate needed a more sustainable employment situation. He helped Nate to apply for a full-time job at a large, well-known retail store that offered a workforce development program with opportunities for advancement. Stephen drove Nate to the store one day, and they walked around asking employees how they liked working there. The answers were all very positive, so Stephen helped Nate to prepare a resume and submit an application. Stephen also helped Nate prepare for the interview and took him shopping for a shirt and tie to wear. Nate was ecstatic when he got the job! Stephen knows that having reliable transportation will help Nate to maximize his employment opportunities, so he helped Nate open a bank account and they are working together to come up with a savings plan so that Nate can purchase his first car.