(April 1, 2011) San Diego, CA– Since 1980, the mission of Voices for Children (VFC) has been to advocate for the rights and well-being of San Diego’s abused and neglected children. Volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates-CASAs- are recruited, trained, and supervised by VFC’s professional staff, and interface with key agencies, legal counsel, and community resources to identify and protect the best interests of their assigned foster child.
Suamhirs Rivera, a former foster youth, suffered abuse from his father in early childhood in Honduras and was then abducted and transported to San Diego. He became a victim of the child sex trade for months before entering into San Diego’s dependency system and being assigned a CASA volunteer. Now 19, Suamhirs attends the University of San Diego and works for a public interest law firm as a legal assistant. Suamhirs credits his CASA for being his rock of support, allowing him to recognize his potential and dream of a better future, despite incredible adversity. “You can’t imagine what it felt like to have no one in my life. Then I received the most amazing gift- my CASA, Marcos, from Voices for Children. Marcos introduced me to a world full of hope and promise. Marco taught me English and became the father figure I never had.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, Voices for Children encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making San Diego a better place for foster children. By advocating for those children who are involved in the juvenile dependency system due to abuse or neglect, we can help support the needs of the community. There are currently as many as 6,000 children living in foster care in San Diego County, most of them without family members able to take care of them.
“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting and supporting children,” said Sharon Lawrence, President and CEO of Voices for Children. “Everyone’s participation is critical. We must focus our attention on those who are most vulnerable-specifically, children- and raise awareness of child abuse and neglect, so that we can do something to eliminate it.”
Voices for Children is a non-profit agency that trains volunteers to advocate on behalf of children in San Diego’s foster care system. Much more than a “mentor,” our volunteers are a “voice” for children in court and give their recommendations to the judge so that the very best decisions can be made for the life of every child.
Become part of the solution! Be a CASA for a foster child! It doesn’t require any special background to be a CASA – just the wish to help a child. VFC offers monthly information sessions for those considering becoming a volunteer. For more information about volunteering and other activities during the month of April and throughout the year, contact Susan Smith, Voices for Children Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator: (858) 598-2235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.