Approximately 3,500 spent time in San Diego County's foster care system last year, and approximately 4,500 were in Riverside County's foster care system. For children who spend time in foster care, the statistics are sobering:
- 40% of all foster children will remain in foster care until age 18
- 50% of all foster children will never receive a high school diploma or GED
- Judges carry an average case load of 500 cases, attorneys have 100 cases, and social workers have 16-25 cases, making it difficult for these dedicated individuals to spend as much time as they would like with each child
- Tragically, adoption is rare for foster children more than seven years old, thus many of them spend long periods of time in foster care—often their entire childhoods. They never experience the stability and security of a committed family or a consistent adult in their lives.
- Research shows that within a few years of leaving the foster care system, more than 84% of foster youth became a parent themselves (often repeating the cycle they went through in their early years), and over 50% are unemployed.
- Furthermore, research by Casey Family Programs and the League of Women Voters concur that the risk of homelessness for teens leaving foster care is extreme, as many as 25% becoming homeless within 18 months of leaving the system.
- Nearly one-third of boys who lived in foster care will go to jail before they reach age 19; foster girls are more than twice as likely to get pregnant as non-fostered teenagers.
- Foster children are twice as likely as war veterans to develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
- The fastest growing population in the foster care system are infants and toddlers.
Making a Difference: The Positive Impact of a CASA in a Foster Child’s Life
CASAs can change the trajectory of a foster child’s life because they are able to focus one-on-one on their case child or children, and therefore are a source of caring focus, consistency, and stability.
The National CASA Association reports that foster children with a CASA:
- Are more likely to be adopted.
- Tend to receive necessary services sooner, for a longer duration, and more consistently.
- Scored significantly higher than other foster children in terms of their sense of acceptance, positive attitude for the future, models of conventional behavior, ability to work with others, and ability to work out conflicts.
It is difficult to overstate the myriad ways a CASA can improve the life of a child in foster care. To give a child a CASA volunteer is to give them a voice, to give them a voice is to give them hope, and to give them hope is to give them the world.
This is what the CASAs of Voices for Children are giving to those young people living in foster care in San Diego and Riverside Counties.