What do children in foster care have in common? The critical need to have at least one consistent, caring adult in their life. Someone to listen to their concerns and fears, ask about their day at school, and nurture their hopes and dreams. Our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers fulfill this need.
The Power of a Caring Adult
Studies show that when children have at least one caring person in their life, they can overcome great odds. Every day, our CASAs help create positive outcomes for our foster children. Unlike foster care professionals—attorneys or social workers who must manage numerous cases at once—CASAs are matched with a single child or sibling group. These compassionate volunteers are able to focus and devote the time to get to know each child in depth, understand their life circumstances, and advocate for their best interests in court. Just as importantly, our CASAs are friends and mentors to their foster youth, awakening potential and resiliency in the children they serve.
CASAs Help Children and Families
We are pleased to share with you our FY17 Annual Report, featuring the Fisher family. When Steven and Veronica Fisher lost custody of their daughters due to drug and alcohol abuse, they sought help. After completing a court mandated rehabilitation program, they regained custody of their girls and consider their CASA Susan, family. Theirs is a story of inspiration and hope.
In FY17 we served 810 foster children with the support of 641 CASA volunteers. We recruited 232 new CASA volunteers, up from 201 last year. Furthermore, 95 percent of our teens completed their high school requirements—more than ever before. Our plan for FY18 is to grow to serve at least 900 foster children. We are making great progress towards our ultimate goal: to provide a CASA for every foster child in Santa Clara County.
One of our most significant accomplishments this past year has been around our move to a digital environment. We successfully transitioned all of our volunteer records to digital formats and are in the process of completing the same for all child and family records. Going digital not only saves paper and office space, but enables our staff and volunteers to exchange information and reports virtually. This enables us to assign CASAs much faster to children in need.
Additionally, we initiated distance learning technology to conduct orientation and training sessions remotely. This removes barriers for potential volunteers who are unable to travel to our Milpitas office and greatly increased our number of volunteers throughout Santa Clara County. Further deployment of this technology will facilitate our ability to provide training, coaching and support to volunteers regardless of where they reside in the County.
On behalf of our staff and Board of Directors, thank you for investing in our organization. Your ongoing support and commitment helps our CASAs provide stability and hope to each child they serve. Thank you for helping us transform lives. With gratitude,