A Child Heard. A Life Changed.
This past year, nearly 3,700 children and youth spent time in San Diego County foster care. Newborn through age 21, these children suffered abuse, abandonment or neglect only to face a new set of challenges in the foster care system.
Siblings “Desiree” and “Jonathan” were removed from their home after experiencing abuse and witnessing drug use. As a result of this trauma, both children faced severe emotional and mental delays. In addition, the kids had never been enrolled in school, which set them even farther back in their development.
CASA: A Trusted Advocate
Voices for Children is a nonprofit organization that transforms the lives of abused and neglected youth in San Diego County by providing them with trained Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, volunteers. Each CASA advocates on behalf of one child or sibling set in areas such as health, education, home placement, mental health, and more. By volunteering 10-15 hours each month, a CASA gets to know their assigned youth, communicates with professionals on the child’s case, and helps judges make the best decisions for the child’s future by reporting on their progress and needs.
In response to Desiree and Jonathan’s case, Voices for Children paired the siblings with CASA “Angie.” At first, the children were hesitant to meet Angie. They had only experienced pain and instability from adults in their lives. But Angie was not deterred. She continued to show up for the children by visiting them at their resource homes (commonly known as a foster homes), attending Jonathan’s soccer games, and taking them on special outings so they could spend time together. Behind the scenes, Angie connected with their caregivers, therapists, and school staff. She prioritized their educational needs and ensured that each child was progressing smoothly through their therapy sessions. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced San Diego County into lockdown, CASA Angie continued her advocacy virtually, ensuring that the children’s special education and therapeutic resources continued.
Thanks to CASA Angie’s unyielding support, the children’s mental and emotional health began to stabilize. Soon, the children were cleared to undergo a 60-day trial visit with their biological mother. After a successful assessment, Desiree and Jonathan were reunified with their mother during the summer of 2021.
Voices for Children believes every child deserves a safe, permanent home. CASA volunteers offer unparalleled advocacy and support, helping to give children every opportunity to find stability. During a time when a child may be feeling alone and unheard, the support of a dedicated CASA makes all the difference. In the past year alone, Voices for Children staff and CASA volunteers advocated on behalf of nearly 2,100 youth in San Diego County.
Support Critical Advocacy This September
On Saturday, September 25, Voices for Children will host its annual Starry Starry Night gala bringing together the community to support San Diego’s most vulnerable children. The 2021 gala will be a spectacular evening under the stars at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, San Diego’s new bayside performance venue. To learn more about the mission of Voices for Children or to purchase tickets and tables to Starry Starry Night, visit www.speakupnow.org.