By Dawn Regner
Name/Entity: Voices for Children
A Brief History:
On any given day, roughly 3,000 children in San Diego County face the challenges of the foster system. Incredibly, those children generally remain in the system for an average of 40 months - that's more than 3 years.
Voices for Children (VFC) was founded in 1977 by Judge David Soukup in Seattle, Washington. The heartbeat of VFC’s solutions-based approach is its Court Appointed Special Advocate (or, CASA) program. There are currently around 1,000 active CASA programs in the United States, consisting of approximately 80,000 volunteers. Voices for Children describes their mission as follows:
Voices for Children transforms the lives of abused, abandoned, or neglected children by providing them with trained volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). Voices for Children believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home, and to that end, will provide a trained CASA volunteer to every abused, abandoned, or neglected child who needs one, and advocate to improve the lives of foster children.
Voices for Children provides evaluation, monitoring, and advocacy to foster children in San Diego through their Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program. As the name suggests, the CASA serves as an advocate for the foster child assigned to them and is officially appointed by a Juvenile Court judge. Through their court-assigned designation, the CASA becomes involved in the child's case, gains access to their records, and serves as the court's "eyes and ears" for the child. They act as fact-finders for the court, and provide them with vital information in order to properly assess the child's welfare.
CASAs attend Advocate University, where they receive 35 hours of training to fully equip them, and, at the end of the training, are sworn in as officers of the court by a Juvenile Dependency Court judge. CASA's are also matched with an Advocacy Supervisor who will work closely with them throughout their case. CASA's must make a minimum 18-month commitment, and generally volunteer an average of 10-15 hours/month.
How Can I Help?
Those interested in the program can attend a Volunteer Information Session to learn all the details.