(January 23, 2012) San Diego, CA Voices for Children announced a major grant of $250,000 from the Price Family Charitable Fund. Voices for Children’s President/CEO Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq. noted, “This wonderful award is a tribute to the dedication and hard work of our volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), who are helping the abused and neglected children living in San Diego County foster care. The Price Family’s generous support moves our organization closer to the ambitious goals of our Serve Every Child initiative, aimed at providing CASAs to every foster child who needs one by 2016.”
Price Family Charitable Fund’s grant will launch VFC’s new Early Assignment of CASAs Program (EACP) which matches volunteer CASAs to children entangled in foster care as soon as the children enter the dependency system. As with VFC’s core CASA Program, these highly trained and supervised volunteers become experts about their case children and provide crucial information to the judges making decisions about the cases. The one-year funding supports needed human resources as well as an evaluation component and operational costs for the fledgling early assignment effort. The Price Family Charitable Fund’s investment also supports VFC’s overall goals of capacity building and program growth to serve more San Diego County foster children.
VFC is seeking additional funding, as well as volunteers, for both the Early Assignment of CASAs Program and its Serve Every Child expansion plans. VFC’s 800+ volunteers contributed nearly 54,000 advocacy hours last year-$1.3 million worth of service. This year, even more time will be spent with 1,400 abused, neglected children receiving the sustained, personal attention, and advocacy of a VFC CASA volunteer. However, thousands of local children languish in foster care without a CASA, and that is why VFC has made a commitment to put a CASA volunteer into the life of every child who needs one by 2016.
Early Assignment of CASAs Program (EACP)
Many of the 5,000 children in San Diego County foster care have been there for years with little hope of ever going home to their parents or being adopted. For these children, the prognosis is grim. Statistics indicate increased incidences of drug abuse, delinquency, school failure, and teen pregnancy for children who have lived for years in foster care, and after they grow up and age out of foster care, unemployment and homelessness are pervasive.
VFC believes it is vitally important for every child, whenever possible, to have a family – forever. The goal of EACP’s intervention is to help ensure that children do not spend years in foster care and do not experience the trauma that too often results in such negative outcomes. The sooner a child has a CASA, the sooner the CASA can begin the research, investigation, and advocacy on behalf of that child, making it more likely he or she is raised by a family, rather than by a system.
Directed by Martha Crowe, Vice President of Programs at Voices for Children, the fully operational EACP will eventually include eight staff, with four EACP Program Supervisors, each overseeing approximately 45 CASA volunteers. The Program Supervisors will guide their CASAs in case management, helping them assess the biological parents’ ability and readiness to have their children returned to them safely and permanently. If this is not possible, CASAs will investigate the next best option – placement with a relative, adoption by a waiting family, or, sometimes, guardianship. In addition, CASAs will get to know their assigned children on a very personal level and will figure out what that particular child needs – and make sure she gets it. In this way, thanks to the generosity of the Price Family Charitable Fund, each child will get the services they need to address the trauma of their abuse and subsequent separation from their parents.