The Core Program of SFCASA
The core of what the San Francisco CASA Program provides is one-on-one advocacy for some of the most abused and neglected children in our city. To do this we recruit, screen, train and supervise volunteer advocates who are sworn officers of the San Francisco Juvenile Dependency Court system. Our volunteers are trained to assess their youth’s needs and to address those needs which, if unmet, block achievement in school, lead to high risk behaviors, and ultimately prevent productive citizenship.
We Give A Child A Voice
SFCASA volunteers meet the child’s caregivers, teachers, parents, doctors, social worker, lawyer—everyone in the child’s life. They come to understand
the child’s hopes and dreams and they strive to determine what will be in the child’s best interests. This comprehensive knowledge enables SFCASA volunteers to speak with authority for children in the courtroom.
For children who have suffered abuse and neglect, the SFCASA volunteer may be the most consistent, interested presence in their lives.
We Champion Kids
By assessing individual needs, by advocating for necessary services, and by providing one-on-one mentor support, SFCASA volunteers ensure that vulnerable children and youth gain access to vital assistance that can break the cycle of abuse and neglect, thereby expanding opportunities for them.
The San Francisco CASA Program volunteer advocates are the only individuals who provide one-on-one advocacy and mentoring on behalf of abused and neglected children who are under the jurisdiction of San Francisco’s juvenile dependency court.
Annually, SFCASA has an average of 300 dedicated community members serving as personal advocates for 320 foster children. Volunteers make at least an 18-month commitment and receive 40 hours of initial training and 12 hours of continuing education annually. During their service, volunteers visit with the client child weekly; review his/her case to determine service needs; verify that those services are being provided; meet with his/her social worker, teacher, foster care provider and parents (when reunification is in process); and report to the court at six-month intervals. As sworn officers of the court, SFCASA volunteers have unmatched access to their client child’s confidential files and so are uniquely qualified to assess the child’s individual needs and ensure all needs are being met. The average volunteer serves on an individual case for 2.83 years, while some volunteers have served on a single case for six or more years.
FISCAL YEAR 2014
FISCAL YEAR 2014
|Program Age||23 years||Age Range|
|Average Length of Service||2 years||10-13||70|
|New Volunteers Trained||59||14-17||96|
|Value of Extracurricular Activities Provided||$30,000+||18-21||48|
Graduated High School
Today, approximately 1,000 children and youth in San Francisco are wards of the dependency court. SFCASA serves a quarter of that population annually through its volunteer advocacy program and has an in-house waitlist with an additional 70-90 of the most urgent cases waiting to be assigned to an SFCASA volunteer. There remain over 750 foster children and youth in San Francisco who could potentially benefit from a comprehensive evaluation of their case and the one-on-one advocacy of an SFCASA volunteer. It is our vision to see that all children who need a CASA are given the opportunity to thrive by having a CASA to speak for them.
As we have grown, we’ve learned that specific groups of our client children have very special needs and so we have developed three specialized programs to compliment our core program. Click below to learn more about each program:
Children who are presently referred to SFCASA have been deemed by a judge or commissioner of the Unified Family Court, a Human Services Agency Child Welfare Worker or a Dependency Panel Attorney to be the most gravely in need of special assistance. Reasons for referrals to our valued advocacy services include: severe maltreatment or neglect, physical or sexual abuse, prior contact with the child welfare system, behavioral issues, educational concerns that the child is failing in school, or a combination of risk factors.
Research shows that with the help of a CASA volunteer, a child is half as likely to languish in the large and, oftentimes, indifferent foster care system—a system which may lead to long-term, deleterious effects that often define the plight of foster youth, such as economic insecurity, homelessness, mental health issues, fragmentary education and imprisonment. Through the support of a CASA volunteer, this incredibly vulnerable population is more likely to receive vital services, be placed in a safe, caring and permanent home, and, perhaps most importantly, know that they are not forgotten.
Through the hard work and collaboration of our staff, volunteers, and the network of service providers associated with a foster child, SFCASA promotes a core belief that society has a fundamental obligation to help abused and neglected children.
Since 1991 SFCASA has been committed to providing one-on-one volunteer advocacy and mentorship to foster children and youth. Today SFCASA has more than 230 volunteers and in the last year has provided services to 253 court dependent children. This year we will train 100 new volunteers.