by Kayla Gonzalez
New Year’s resolutions are a chance to make a lasting change. This year, making a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child can start with a resolution too.
The San Francisco Court Appointed Special Advocate program works to train and support advocates who will ensure that the foster youth in our community receive the support services that they deserve. CASA volunteers stand up for a child in the courtroom and champion for their rights to a safe and permanent home, healthcare and education, and connections within the community that will follow them even after they have left foster care. Volunteers are everyday citizens with a common desire to improve the quality of life for a child who has been removed from his or her family due to abuse or neglect.
CASAs work with caregivers, social workers, teachers, lawyers, and more to strive for outcomes that support the best interest of each youth. Our volunteers commit to a six-week training program and a minimum of 18 months of work. Each week, 3 to 6 hours are spent visiting with and advocating for a youth. The time spent as a volunteer advocate can provide some of the most rewarding experiences filled with new challenges, surprises, and self-discovery.
Last year, 217 children in foster care had a CASA volunteer speak up for their best interest. 720 children are still waiting for a CASA to advocate for their needs. SFCASA seeks to provide each youth with a consistent and caring adult through the help of the community. A child with a CASA is half as likely to re-renter the foster care system and more likely to succeed in school.
CASAs are often the only supportive, stable person in a child’s life that he or she can count on. Advocates dedicate their time to increasing the chances for a child in foster care to thrive. You can resolve to make a difference in 2016 through advocacy and mentorship by volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Training for new volunteers begins January 26th. For more information about how you can help be the voice for a child in foster care, visit http://www.sfcasa.org/volunteer/