Contact: Amanda Schaap, 858-598-2213, firstname.lastname@example.org
(May 21, 2020) SAN DIEGO & RIVERSIDE COUNTIES, Calif.— With our community’s children at greater risk of abuse and neglect during the COVID-19 crisis, Voices for Children announces the launch of a new public service announcement to raise awareness of the needs of children in foster care and to recruit volunteers to support this vulnerable population.
The public service announcement can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/62Uea5nDiZk
The CDC identifies a number of factors that could indicate an increased risk of child abuse, which include social isolation, financial stress or instability, and family stress. During the COVID-19 crisis, these risk factors have been introduced or have increased for many families.
Children enter the foster care system when someone reports child abuse or neglect and an investigation confirms that it is unsafe for the child to remain with their parents or caregivers. At that time, a child becomes a dependent of the court.
Recent reports show a troubling decrease in calls to child abuse reporting hotlines as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, indicating that situations of abuse and neglect are not being noticed and brought to the attention of authorities. With schools and daycares closed, children are no longer interacting with some of the most common reporters of abuse – teachers, coaches, and daycare providers. In the coming months as restrictions are lifted, child welfare professionals anticipate a spike in child abuse reports and an increase in the number of children entering foster care.
In addition, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to compound the effects of trauma already experienced by youth in foster care. The child welfare sector faces a multitude of potential challenges, including investigating child abuse, providing necessary services to children, protecting the health of youth in group homes or those with elderly caregivers, and finding support for college-aged youth who have no home to which they can return.
Voices for Children (VFC), a local nonprofit organization, operates the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in San Diego County, a volunteer-based model providing support and advocacy to children in foster care.
The CASA program was launched as a way for trained volunteers to help judges make the most informed decisions on children’s cases and ensure the needs of children are being met. CASA volunteers are matched one-on-one with a child or sibling group in foster care. The CASA spends time with the child, works to understand their needs, communicates with professionals on the case including social workers and attorneys, and advocates for the child’s best interest.
In an effort to provide the support of a CASA volunteer to more youth, VFC is actively recruiting volunteers and has expanded its offerings to host upcoming volunteer Information Sessions in a virtual format. VFC encourages volunteers who are interested in helping this vulnerable population to learn more by signing up for an online Information Session at www.speakupnow.org/information-sessions.
About Voices for Children
Founded in 1980, Voices for Children (VFC) transforms the lives of abused, neglected, and abandoned children in foster care in San Diego and Riverside Counties by providing them with trained, volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). CASA volunteers advocate for a foster child or sibling group in court, school, and in the community to ensure their needs are met. VFC believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home, and strives to provide a CASA volunteer to every child in the foster care system who needs one. Last year, VFC CASAs and staff advocated on behalf of more than 3,000 foster children across San Diego and Riverside Counties.