May is National Foster Care Awareness Month
By Karen Scussel, Executive Director, Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Our state has approximately 60,000 children in foster care, children who have suffered significant trauma due to familial abuse or neglect. Each one of these children deserves love, care, a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive. For this reason, every May is commemorated as Foster Care Awareness month to shine a light on all the children who are in the juvenile dependency system through no fault of their own.
We salute the foster parents who take these children into their homes and give them safe, nurturing environments; social workers who make sure the children and their families get the support and services they need to reunify; attorneys who represent the children’s rights and best interests in court; therapists who help these children heal; and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers who stand by and advocate for the children as long as they are in foster care.
Thus far this year, Child Advocates has provided a CASA to 800 foster children. We know what a difference showing up for a foster child can mean. Last year, 95% of our CASA teens completed their high school requirements compared to fewer than 50% of all foster youth nationally. Furthermore, 90% of our teens had identified a safe place to live after high school.
How to Help
You can help these most vulnerable children in our community by volunteering as a CASA. I personally have advocated for 17 children and can tell you that your life will be immeasurably enriched, and your community with be a stronger healthier place.
Child Advocates holds monthly Volunteer Information Sessions where you can hear more about our CASA program. You can learn more here.
If you want to help but cannot volunteer as a CASA, please consider making a donation to help serve more foster children on our waitlist. It costs approximately $2,000 for our agency to recruit, train and support one CASA volunteer. To support our program, you can make a donation here.
We are happy to come and speak at your workplace or community organization to spread the word about the needs of foster youth in our community. For speaking opportunities, please contact our Community Development Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All children in foster care deserve a CASA who can help them understand their situation and can advocate on their behalf. During National Foster Care Awareness Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for children and youth in foster care, and we celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.