Monday, Oct 29, 2018
Child Advocates, CASA of Silicon Valley Receives National Grant to
Benefit More Children in Santa Clara County
MILPITAS, CA, OCT. 25, 2018 – Child Advocates, CASA of Silicon Valley of Santa Clara County, has been awarded a $35,000 capacity grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association. Funds will be used to recruit, train and support more CASA volunteers from our community to work one-on-one with children in the foster care system who have experienced abuse or neglect. CASAs provide critical emotional and educational support, ensuring that each child’s needs are met and their voice is heard while they navigate the dependency system.
Nationally, a child enters the foster care system every two minutes, and currently there are not enough CASA volunteers to serve every child. On average, for every child assigned a CASA volunteer, two others go it alone. In Santa Clara County, there are approximately 1,300 children in the foster care. In fiscal year 2018, Child Advocates provided CASAs to 905 foster children. The nonprofit agency has a three year strategic plan to serve 1,200 children with a CASA by 2021.
According to the 2018 California Children’s Report Card, 50 percent of children in foster care have endured four or more adverse childhood experiences, which include abuse, neglect, household substance abuse, household mental illness, and household violence.
Child Advocates, CASA of Silicon Valley Receives National Grant/p. 2
“Every foster child deserves the support of a caring, consistent adult in their life with the training to help him or her heal and thrive,” says Karen Scussel, executive director of Child Advocates, CASA of Silicon Valley.
CASAs use a trauma-informed approach, providing stability and guidance to children through changes of social workers, attorneys, placements, schools and service providers. Just as importantly, CASAs are friends and mentors, awakening potential and resiliency in the children they serve.
“We know CASAs make a tremendous difference in a foster child’s life,” Scussel explains, noting that only 47% of all foster youth in Santa Clara County complete high school, but with the support of a CASA, foster teens fare much better. Last year, 95% of Child Advocates’ teens completed their high school requirements and planned to continue their education at a community college or vocational program.
Currently, Child Advocates has more than 100 foster children waiting to be matched with a CASA. No legal experience is necessary — just a willingness to reach out to a child when he/she is feeling most vulnerable. The time commitment is 10-12 hours per month. Volunteers must pass a background check and be 21 years or older to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Individuals interested in becoming a CASA can sign up at www.BeMyAdvocate.org/volunteer to attend a Volunteer Info session to learn more about the role and requirements of becoming a CASA volunteer in Santa Clara County. Two Info Sessions will be held in November: one on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 10:00 am, and one on Monday, Nov. 5 at 5:45 pm. Both Info Sessions will be held at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits, 1400 Parkmoor Avenue, San Jose. For more information, contact Bryan Wilson at Bryan@cadvocates.org or at 408.573.5602.
The federal grant funds distributed through the National CASA Association are provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice, as authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990. They are awarded through a competitive process. In 2018, National CASA was awarded over $10 million in federal grants.
About Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Child Advocates was founded in 1986 and has served more than 16,000 foster children with a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Child Advocates is the only agency in Santa Clara County that provides CASAs to foster youth. Because our volunteers are court-appointed, they can thoroughly research every aspect of a child’s case, including meeting teachers, doctors, social workers, counselors, biological family members and foster parents, thereby gaining a comprehensive perspective on what the child needs in order to thrive. CASAs assist their child in accessing needed resources, follow their school progress, and speak up for their child’s best interests in court. They maintain records about the case, submit reports and attend court hearings. CASA volunteers stay with their case until their child has a safe, loving home. Find out more about our CASA program at www.BeMyAdvocate.org.