More than 500,000 children live in foster care in the United States. These children were abused or neglected and then removed from their families and the place they called home. Sadly, many can become a victim a second time in an overwhelmed child welfare system that does not allow for close attention to each child and their needs or wants.
Each day in California, 70 children who have been abused or neglected join the state's population of nearly 80,000 children in foster care. California is home to nearly one-fifth of all foster children in the United States. In Stanislaus County, there are over 600 children in Foster Care at any given time. If you were to count the children in guardianship or kinship, the number would swell to over 1,200. As dependents of the juvenile court, these children pass through a court system which can leave them frightened, confused and alone.
CASA's PART OF THE SOLUTION
Across California, thousands of volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) build close relationships with and serve as one-on-one advocates for children in foster care. More than 45 CASA programs in California recruit and specially train these volunteers from the community, who are then appointed as advocates by a juvenile court.
CASA volunteers commit to spending at least one year: 1) establishing a strong, stable connection with a child in foster care, 2) gathering information and making recommendations to the court about the child's best interest, and 3) advocating to make sure the child receives needed services. Too often, a CASA volunteer is the only consistent adult in the life of the child.
Our goals for the CASA movement in Stanislaus County are:
1) To serve and improve outcomes for more children,
2) To continuously improve volunteer effectiveness,
3) To continuously increase program quality, and
4) To share our insights to improve child welfare laws and policies.
CASA is funded through private and individual donations; corporate grants; Community organization donations (like Kiwanis and Rotary); the State of California's Judicial Council and people like YOU!