(December 31, 2012) San Diego – Voices for Children (VFC) is pleased to announce that since November 2012, it has received a number of grants and gifts that will help further the agency’s mission to provide a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, to more of the abused and neglected foster children in San Diego County. Together, the contributions total nearly $210,000.
The grantors are the San Diego County Board of Supervisors ($27,732), Walmart Foundation’s California State Giving Council ($25,000), McCarthy Family Foundation ($20,000), Samuel and Katherine French Fund ($20,000), In-N-Out Burger Foundation ($17,000), Bank of America Charitable Foundation ($9,000), and the Highland Street Foundation ($5,000). Additional donors are an anonymous donor ($50,000), the trust of Mary Lou Washakta ($25,000), and the San Diego Association of Legal Administrators ($10,055).
All funds will support Voices for Children’s “Serve Every Child” vision to expand its CASA Program, through which it empowers volunteer advocates to help the Court determine and implement decisions that are in the best interest of the foster children they represent. Across FY2012-13, VFC will have nearly 1,000 CASA volunteers advocating for 1,735 foster children, and the agency will review and assess the case files of every one of the 5,500+ children living in San Diego foster care this fiscal year.
The $50,000 anonymous gift, $25,000 estate gift from Mary Lou Washakta, plus grants from the Walmart Foundation’s California State Giving Council, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and the Highland Street Foundation will help fund the recruitment, training, and management of CASA volunteers, serving approximately 46 foster children. It costs $2,500 to provide a child with a CASA for one year.
In addition, VFC received grants in support of a special initiative, the Infants & Toddlers Program. Grants from the Samuel and Katherine French Fund and In-NOut Burger Foundation, $20,000 and $17,000 respectively, will assist in providing specially trained CASAs to foster children under the age of five. The ultimate goal of the Infants & Toddlers Program is to ensure a nurturing, stable home environment as early as possible in a young child’s life, either with the biological parents or an adoptive family, in order to ameliorate some of the negative outcomes from long-term foster care. The McCarthy Family Foundation grant of $20,000 is in support of another special initiative, the Early Assignment Program. In this program, VFC staff are in courtrooms daily, in order to assign CASAs to foster cases immediately upon the judge declaring the child a dependent of the court.
CASAs can thus move into action quickly, and in many cases help resolve cases quickly, again to spare the foster child the trauma of long, drawn-out cases where they must live in foster care for years-sometimes their entire childhoods.
Two Neighborhood Reinvestment Grants totaling $27,732 from the County Board of Supervisors will support technology infrastructure and capacity expansion at VFC, part of the “Serve Every Child” growth initiative. Specifically, the grants fund phone and computer equipment for new staff, and enhanced cabling that will increase bandwidth and improve overall program communications and efficiency at Voices for Children’s offices in Kearny Mesa.
In addition, San Diego’s Association of Legal Administrators again extended its support. For five years, VFC has been beneficiary of the Association’s annual Couture for a Cause fashion show fundraiser, and this year, the event realized a gift of $10,055.
“The generosity of these supporters, and so many others from throughout San Diego, is helping us achieve our ambitious goal: to provide by 2016 a Court Appointed Special Advocate to each and every foster child who needs one,” said Sharon Lawrence, President and CEO of Voices for Children. “Foster children are better served with an advocate to speak up for them in court, in school, and in the community, and we at Voices for Children believe that every foster child needs and deserves the focused attention a CASA provides. This is only possible because of the generous philanthropy of individuals, companies, foundations, and the San Diego Board of supervisors. We are so grateful for their faith in our work.”
VOICES FOR CHILDREN
For an abused or neglected child, a Court Appointed Special Advocate-a CASA volunteer-is someone who listens, reaching out to teachers, social workers, lawyers, caregivers, judges and anyone else who can help meet the child’s needs.
The sole mission of a CASA is to help clear a path for a child out of the complex, overburdened child welfare system and into a safe, permanent home. Since 1980, Voices for Children has recruited, trained and supervised CASAs who advocate for the rights and well-being of the more than 5,000 children who pass through foster care in San Diego County annually. As the only agency in San Diego County designated by the courts to provide CASA volunteers, Voices for Children has a vision called Serve Every Child: to provide by 2016 a CASA to every foster child who needs one. For more information about Voices for Children, to inquire about becoming a CASA volunteer, or to make a donation, visit www.speakupnow.org or call (858) 569-2019.