The United States has over 424,000 children in foster care (June, 2010). And while the number of children entering foster care over the past few years is trending downward (19% over the past 8 years), another 255,000 children are placed in foster care each year.
52% of those children will be returned to their parents or family members, but many of them will languish in the system until they either are adopted or age-out. For those children left in the system, the harsh reality is that almost half of them won't graduate from high school, and many of them, by the time they turn 23, will have spent some time in jail.
We are changing this statistic. One child at a time, the CASA program volunteers focus their efforts on making sure that their assigned foster child/ren finish high school, setting a foundation for higher education and giving them a greater chance at self-sufficiency and success.
We may not be able to change the system that these children are placed in at this moment, but we can change the odds. Please help us with this effort by continuing to support the CASA program. As you are likely aware, programs like CASA have already sustained and anticipate even greater funding cuts from all levels of government. Now more than ever, the success of our CASA volunteers - the success of our foster children, relies on our supporters. Thank you for helping us change those statistics.
For a child in foster care, one of the greatest gifts you can receive is a safe and permanent home. We heard this message over and over again at our First Annual CASA Holiday Party for the foster children that we represent. Santa paid a special visit to the party and when asked about what they wanted for Christmas, several children answered, "a home." It is in those times that we are reminded again of the importance of the work that our CASA volunteers do. This is our mission: to provide each foster child, a safe and permanent home, as quickly as possible.
On behalf of the children that we serve, thank you to all of you for supporting us in this mission.
For many children in foster care, this is a question that they keep asking, but often don't get a straight answer to. What's going on with my mom? What's going on with my brothers and sisters? What's going on with my case? WHAT'S GOING ON??? This uncertainty can be incredibly unsettling for any child and makes it very difficult for them to form any emotional attachment and connection to the adults in their life. This is where a CASA volunteer can make a huge difference.
Simply by being honest, and acknowledging the difficultly of the child's position, the CASA volunteer can become that "safe" place for the foster child to express their fears about their future. And even 'tho the CASA may not have all the answers to "what's going on", they can come alongside the child and offer a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, and ensure them that they will be the child's voice in the court process.
Without your support, our foster children would not have that "safe" place to go to. Your support does more than train volunteers, it gives foster children that hand to hold, that shoulder to cry on, and that voice in court.
The futures of our CASA program and the foster children that we represent is bright! We recently graduated 12 new CASAs and have over 30 more volunteers waiting in the wings to be trained. This means that many more foster children will benefit from having their own CASA to make sure that their best interests are well represented in court. We are grateful to all our donors who have helped make this possible.
Thanks to the "Racing for a Cause" campaign, the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County has been able to recruit and train 16 more Court Appointed Special Advocates who are now making sure that foster children do not get lost in the system.
This means that many more foster children will have their health and educational needs met, and will be given the time and attention they need to flourish in their development.
Additionally, a new class of Advocates has just started - with 17 new CASA trainees.
We are excited about the growth momentum that our CASA program is seeing. Thank you to everyone who is making this possible.
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