Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Voices for Children unites for a heartfelt cause: local children in foster care

SAN DIEGO – Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers are everyday people who are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child or sibling group in the foster care system. They work to ensure youth are safe and cared for and advocate for them while they are in the child welfare system to ensure their voices are heard and needs are met.

Voices for Children is the nonprofit organization in San Diego and Riverside Counties that recruits, screens and trains these compassionate and dedicated volunteers.

Although CASAs work individually with a specific child or sibling group, many couples choose to go through the process of becoming CASA volunteers together. It is a great way for spouses or partners to support each other’s efforts on the path and to make a difference in their community.

CASAs Jim and Pam of San Diego County

Jim and Pam first met at a business event 25 years ago while working for separate companies. They immediately discovered they had a lot in common as they were both hard-working, single parents. They soon became a couple, merged families and have been together ever since.

Pam first heard about Voices for Children while researching ways to help children who had experienced abuse. Together, they attended CASA training in January 2019 and were each assigned their first cases shortly thereafter. Pam has served as a CASA for two sibling sets, and Jim has been a CASA for four youth.

Pam feels that being a CASA is a great opportunity to help children find stability and hope. She also receives a lot of joy when they share experiences and build memories together. For Jim, being a CASA means helping children find a better life through improved education and life skills. He especially enjoys outings with the children and seeing the experiences we take for granted through their eyes.

“We each see our respective children several times a month. We find it very helpful to learn from each other by sharing our feelings about our experiences without specific details about our cases,” Jim and Pam said.

They both agree that while this role can be emotionally challenging with significant ups and downs, the experience is more than worth it.

CASAs Aneesa and Dewain of San Diego County

Aneesa and Dewain first met on the same engineering management team at Hewlett Packard, where they first heard about Voices for Children at a Giving Back campaign. Aneesa became a CASA in 2014, followed by Dewain in 2017. Aneesa has been a CASA for eight children, including one set of siblings, and Dewain has been a CASA for two children.

“We give each other the bandwidth to serve others, not just with Voices for Children. Giving back and serving others is a priority for us,” Aneesa and Dewain said. “For all of those who are currently CASA volunteers or thinking about signing up, there may be times when you can't tell if you are making a difference. Remind yourself that you never know how or when a kid will process your kindness and attention.”

This past year, over 1,236 CASAs and Voices for Children staff supported more than 2,295 youth in foster care in San Diego and Riverside counties. But more children come into care across the region and need a CASA every day. Voices for Children is challenging more members of the community to become a part of the solution by becoming a CASA volunteer.

“Studies show that one of the key indicators for child well-being is having committed adults in a child’s life,” Jessica Muñoz, Esq., MFS, president and CEO at Voices for Children, said.

CASA volunteers get to know the child on an individual level and communicate with everyone involved in their life, including parents and other family members, foster parents, social workers and others.

Consider becoming a CASA volunteer to look out for children and give them and their family a better chance at a brighter future and invite your partner to learn more, too. Visit http://speakupnow.org.

The next information sessions in both counties will be held in San Diego County Saturday, March 2, at 10-11:30 a.m. in Kearny Mesa; Wednesday, March 13, at 6-7:30 p.m. on Zoom and Thursday, March 28, at 9-10:30 a.m. in Zoom.

For more information, visit http://speakupnow.org.

Submitted by Voices for Children.

 

Reader Comments(0)