Thursday, Jul 7, 2016
By Laura Fulda
This week, Child Advocates launched an ambitious two-month campaign to recruit 100 new volunteers to serve 100 more children in foster care for the new school year.
Why? Currently, we have about 120 school age children on our wait list in need of a CASA. Our goal is to recruit, train and support 100 new CASAs to help these children as they start the new school year.
Children in foster care often move around a lot. Not only do they get shuffled to different foster homes or group homes, they often have to attend a new school and that can be tough. We know from our 30 years of experience as agency that children with CASAs fare much better than those without a CASA. That’s why we’re working so hard to help the 100-plus children on our wait list. No child should have to wait for a CASA, particularly when they’re starting off the new school year and may need some extra help staying focused on their studies and staying out of trouble.
The CASA Difference
While there are many different mentoring programs available to volunteers, the CASA program is unique. Because CASAs are court-appointed, they can thoroughly research every aspect of a child’s case, including meeting teachers, doctors, social workers, counselors, biological family members and foster parents, thereby gaining a comprehensive perspective on what the child needs in order to thrive.
Here are three ways CASAs make a tremendous difference in foster children’s lives:
- More foster children receive the educational, therapeutic and medical services they need when they are matched with a CASA volunteer.
- 73% of our 3-5 year olds were enrolled in preschool compared to just 35% of all preschool age foster children in Santa Clara County.
- Only 58% of all foster youth in California complete high school but with the support of a CASA, foster teens fare much better. More than 85% of Child Advocates’ teens completed their high school requirements and planned to continue their education at a community college or vocational program.
If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, please sign up to attend a Volunteer Open House/Orientation Session to learn more about the role and requirements of becoming a CASA. No legal experience is necessary to become a volunteer — just a willingness to reach out to a child when he/she is feeling most vulnerable. The time commitment is 10-12 hours per month, and volunteers must be 21 years or older to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
And By the way, More Men Are Needed
Nearly half the children in foster care are male but less than 20% of our CASA volunteers are men. My co-worker George Ochoa, who is also a CASA, says it’s so important that young boys have positive male role models to guide them, particularly through adolescence. Moe Rubenzahl, a board member who is also a CASA, says being a CASA is one of the best things he’s ever done. He describes his CASA experience so far as “amazing.” So, guys, what are you waiting for?
Still need a nudge? Check out our FAQs on becoming a volunteer our website.