When families fail to provide for their children’s well-being, they become the responsibility of the San Diego County court system – and they become “foster children.” Aged newborn to 18 years, these innocent victims are removed from their homes for their own safety, through no fault or action of their own. Whatever the reasons for the family’s failure to care for them - maltreatment, abuse, neglect, or abandonment - the experience of foster care compounds the children’s suffering. Most of these young people are alone, without relatives or family friends willing or able to ensure they get the attention they need during their time in the system. They are in crisis. And, after being wounded by their abusive parents or caregivers, they suffer again in an underfunded, overworked government system.
Over 5,000 foster children live in San Diego today – in group homes, foster homes, and other facilities. These children live lives of uncertainty and chaos; they are often moved from place to place several times in one year - including changing schools, teachers, and friends. They learn early to distrust adults, as they have been betrayed so often.
Voices for Children (VFC) is the sole San Diego County organization designated to recruit, train, and manage Court Appointed Special Advocates – or “CASAs” – to work with foster children. VFC believes passionately in the sacredness of childhood and in each child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the secure embrace of a loving family. To this end, VFC recruits and trains volunteer CASAs from the community, volunteers who are matched with children in foster care, assigned to a VFC Advocacy Supervisor, and empowered to speak up on behalf of their case children in court, in school, and in the community. In FY 2013-14, over 2,000 foster children will receive the loving support of one of our cadre of 1,200+ volunteer CASAs from Voices for Children. It is well documented that CASAs make a lasting difference in the lives of foster children by ensuring that the judges making decisions about the children have the most current and pertinent information. The statistics for foster children without CASAs is grim – it is estimated that 50% of foster children will end up homeless within two years of “aging out” of the system; and many struggle with substance abuse, unemployment, and profound psychological problems because of their difficult childhoods. CASAs seek stability for their case children in a permanent home, and provide emotional support and continuity during this time of crisis. Since VFC’s founding in 1980, our CASAs have given tens of thousands of abused and neglected San Diego children hope for a normal childhood.