1,800 abused or neglected children in Santa Clara County foster care system
The Power of a Caring Adult
Milpitas, CA, October 10, 2012 --
17-year-old Logan sat in the front row at a workshop designed to help foster youth pursue a college education. He came to the workshop eager to receive guidance on how to achieve his goal of becoming a nurse. As Logan listened to some of the foster youth in attendance share stories about how their Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) helped them through difficult times, a question suddenly occurred to him. He raised his hand and asked, "How can I get a CASA? I am 17 years old and I don't have anybody. I don't have one single adult in my life to turn to."
Logan had come to the workshop in search of things he was desperately lacking in his life - support and advice. He had entered foster care at the age of 11, after being removed from an abusive father and stepmother. Although his foster parents provided a safe home, there was no emotional support and school was not prioritized. Logan knew he wanted to attend college and become a nurse, but he didn't know where to begin and he felt truly alone. Also, he was very concerned about turning 18 soon, which meant being emancipated from the dependency system, living on his own and trying to navigate his future with no adult to help guide him in the right direction.
Logan, Meet Dave
Luckily, Logan's earnest plea caught the attention of Dave, an Advocate attending the workshop. Dave introduced himself to Logan and took the necessary steps to become his CASA. Since then, Dave has helped Logan become a Non-Minor Dependent of the Court under AB 12, a new law which allows youth to stay in the Dependency system until age 22. Dave also guided and supported Logan as he graduated from high school and completed his college application and financial aid forms. Today, Logan attends a local community college and is well on his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a nurse. Perhaps most importantly, Dave introduced Logan to other caring adults who have offered support and advice. For instance, he made arrangements for Logan to meet a member of the faculty of the School of Nursing at one of the local Universities; she is now Logan's Nursing Program Mentor. Dave also taught Logan how to drive and assisted him in getting eyeglasses - things many teens take for granted, but are extremely challenging for a foster youth.
While Child Advocates' volunteers often help their youth achieve life-changing goals like attending college or finding employment, sometimes it's the little things our volunteers do that make the biggest difference.
Last May, Logan was honored at Child Advocates' Celebrating Teen Success event that was held in a formal ballroom at a local private country club. Preparing for the event, Dave suggested that Logan wear nice clothes, but learned that Logan did not own slacks, a dress shirt or tie. So, Child Advocates provided a dress shirt and tie (courtesy of a donation from Men's Warehouse) and Dave purchased dress slacks. When Logan arrived at the event, he was presented with the new clothes. After changing into them, Logan peeked at himself in the mirror and was so proud of his new look until he realized the shoes he was wearing - the only type of shoe he owned, worn out sneakers - didn't match the rest of his outfit. Dave noticed the disappointment on Logan's face and asked him what size shoe he wore, which turned out to be a 9 - the same size as Dave. Dave then offered his own shoes that he was wearing that night to Logan so that he could accept his recognition and scholarship proudly and truly dressed for success. That moment, when this Advocate offered the shoes off his feet to a needy teenager, is a true snapshot of what having a CASA means to a child in foster care--an adult to be there for you no matter what.
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley Boosts Educational Achievement
Youth need a supportive adult in their life to achieve academic success. Whether it is helping with homework, providing school supplies, attending a school performance, or arranging a tour of a college campus, a consistent, caring adult presence can make all the difference when it comes to a youth's educational outcomes. Statistics show that foster youth are in desperate need of academic support:
*30% of foster youth function one to two grade levels below their peers in reading and math
*46% drop out before obtaining a high school diploma
*only 10% enroll in college
*fewer than 1% earn a four year college degree.
(ACT, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Law Center of Los Angeles and the Little Hoover Commission)
In spite of these bleak numbers, there is hope. In Santa Clara County children with Advocates are beating the odds - while only 50% of foster children nationwide graduate from high school, 85% of Child Advocates' high school seniors earned their high school diploma or equivalent. In our annual Advocate survey, nearly 80% of our Advocates reported that they provide education support to their youth and 61% reported improved academic performance from their youth during the last school year.
In fact, Child Advocates' success with Education Advocacy has been recognized by the National CASA Association. Click here to read a feature story in The Connection Magazine featuring our efforts to improve education outcomes for foster youth.
While we can't change our children's past, together, we can give them hope for a brighter future. We need your help to positively impact more lives. Make a donation to Child Advocates today to help our community's most vulnerable children reach their greatest potential.
Double Your Donations
Many employers will "match" tax-deductible charitable contributions made by their employees, retirees and employees' spouses. Some even provide matching funds to support employee volunteer hours. Make your gifts to Child Advocates have an even greater impact by taking advantage of your employer's matching gift program.
If you are not sure if your company has a matching program, or if you are a company representative and would like to start an Employee Matching Gifts program for your employees, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Debbie Lee at (408) 573-5615.
About Child Advocates
Child Advocates has been providing essential services to this vulnerable population since 1986. The organization trains and supports Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers to work one-on-one with children, helping to ensure that each child will live in a safe and loving environment.