By Craig Michaels
As the summer sun gives way to the golden hues of fall, children all around the country prepare for a familiar routine—the back-to-school season. A time of anticipation, excitement, and the promise of new beginnings. Yet, for the youth navigating the complexities of foster care, this chapter of the year can be a contrasting experience, filled with uncertainty and challenges. In a recent study by the National Foster Youth Institute, an alarming statistic surfaced: only 50 percent of youth in foster care graduate from high school nationally. These young souls, already burdened by the instability of their circumstances, face the daunting task of navigating their education amidst life’s upheavals. Enter Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), the unsung heroes championing these children’s rights and shaping their futures.
Voices for Children, in Riverside and San Diego Counties, has made it their mission to rally a force of caring individuals to be the steadfast allies these foster youth desperately need. These advocates, lovingly dubbed CASAs, step into the lives of these young learners, offering not only guidance but also a lifeline of support. Male and bilingual volunteers are particularly sought after, as they bridge crucial gaps in the system. The journey undertaken by these CASAs is awe-inspiring. With nearly 2,300 children under their wings, Voices for Children has become a guiding light for youth teetering on the edges of uncertainty.
Education has the power to transform lives, and CASA volunteers wield this power with compassion and dedication. Research shows that when CASAs team up with these young learners, the results are profound—improved academic performance, better behavior in school, and access to essential resources. From attending school meetings to fostering engagement in extracurricular activities, CASAs are the champions these children need, advocating for tutoring, special education services, and the tools required for success.
But it doesn’t stop there. CASAs often hold the educational rights of their assigned child, becoming the guiding star navigating their academic journey. Through collaborations with educators, school administrators, and social workers, these advocates construct a comprehensive understanding of each child’s unique needs, strengths, and challenges. This alliance empowers them to advocate not only in the courtroom but also within the classroom walls.
If you’re compelled to make a difference in these young lives as they embrace the new school year, Voices for Children extends an invitation:
- Volunteer: Unleash your potential as a CASA volunteer and become a beacon of hope for foster youth. Attend a volunteer information session at speakupnow.org.
- Spread the Word: The call for CASA volunteers echoes everywhere. Be a voice for these children by hosting a speaker at your organization or displaying the volunteer drive flier in communal spaces.
- Donate Funds: Fuel the fire of change by supporting Voices for Children financially. Every dollar contributes to training and sustaining CASA volunteers who reshape the destinies of foster youth.
- Make a Referral: If you’re an educator guiding a child in foster care who needs that extra advocacy, reach out. A simple call to (858) 569-2019 in San Diego County or (951) 472-9301 in Riverside County can be a game-changer.
Voices for Children, with its unwavering commitment, is scripting a tale of transformation. In the classrooms and corridors, they stand as champions, rewriting the narratives of foster youth—one success story at a time.
Written By: Craig Michaels