VOICES FOR CHILDREN

Organization’s overall annual budget: $417,000

Requested dollar amount for this grant: $30,000

Suggested dollar amount for this grant: $30,000

Description of how the funds will be used: To provide Riverside County locations: 12 children with CASAs for the year, Advocacy Supervisors for 48 children, totaling 60 children. Funds would also assist in: informational and training sessions in the City of Riverside, ongoing CASA management for the new staff, marketing efforts for fundraising, general marketing, management of the program and volunteer recruitment.

Description of Project/Program: What makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address: Two years ago 5500 foster children lost their CASA representation for Riverside County and desperately needed help. Voices for Children San Diego was the first choice for the task, because of its size and statewide/national prominence. In November 2014, the VFC Board voted to take on Riverside County because of their close proximity and replicate their successful San Diego program. They have received 2 offices buildings from the county and have relocated key personnel into the county, and major donors in San Diego have contributed to their growth in Riverside, as well as the use of shared personal/resources from San Diego such as fundraising and marketing. Currently, they are in the first couple two years of the plan and are ahead of their goals. VFC recruits, trains and supervises compassionate men and women to serve as advocates for foster children—to be their “voice” in court, in school, and in the community. Because CASAs are matched one-on-one with a single child or sibling group, they are able to devote the necessary time to provide effective and individualized advocacy. CASAs offer foster children hope and the chance for a better life. CASA’s give a child a voice in court: they provide judges with unbiased reports and notes of observations about what is best for the child, giving a child a voice in court. They also facilitate and communicate with their case workers. Often Foster children are moved around and out of a school district, losing the oversight of school records, which causes a child to be held down a grade. A CASAs will bridges this gap in the system and move school records with the child, which helps with overall education and self-esteem.

Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards: High Impact, Direct Benefit, Education, Sustainability, Community Building, Innovative, Measurable.

High Impact: CASAs’ recommendations in Court are very impactful, influencing positive change on issues of education, health and home placement for foster children who are in crisis.

Direct Benefit: Foster children with CASAs are happier & healthier, improve school performance & avoid many of the at-risk behaviors that lead to negative outcomes like delinquency, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and incarceration.

Sustainability: For long-term sustainability, a planned giving program, The Advocates Circle, is designed to build an endowment for the future.

Community Building: VFC collaborates with over 60 community organizations with common interests serving foster children.

Innovation: 35 years of innovation has elevated VFC to the third leading CASA program of all 950+ in the nation. Riverside CASA initiative showcases that their highly-effective CASA Program in San Diego can be replicated across counties and that it is possible to serve record numbers of children. Innovation drives VFC’s impact, and they routinely share their successes with other CASA programs.

Measurable: VFC is driven by metrics regarding foster children and their CASA’SAs, and tracks all foster children upon entering and leaving foster care. By establishing baselines and benchmarks and then consistently tracking and analyzing data, the Riverside CASA team can measure successes and failures and implement vital future program changes.

Organization’s Mission Statement: Voices for Children transforms the lives of abused children by providing them with volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). We believe that every child deserves a safe and permanent home, and to that end, will review and monitor every court file in the system, provide a CASA to every child in the foster care system who needs one, and advocate to improve the lives of foster children.

www.speakupnow.org