Mission: More than 1,000 of San Francisco's children are victims of abuse and neglect and have been placed under the jurisdiction of the juvenile dependency court. Approximately 63% of these children are in long term placement without prospect of returning to parents. They spend an average of five years in foster care and are repeatedly reassigned from one Human Services Agency (HSA) Child Welfare Worker to another.
Serious and chronic health and developmental problems occur approximately 500% more frequently among our court dependent children than in the general population. These children as a group tend to be learning-disabled, to suffer emotional disturbances because of impermanence and exposure to violence, to have chronic and often untreated health problems, and to be high risk for failure in school, chronic unemployment, substance abuse, incarceration, and homelessness.
By finding safe and permanent homes for client children and by addressing these children's educational, healthcare, and other urgent needs, SFCASA volunteers promote clients' healthy emotional development and minimize the consequences of abuse and neglect. SFCASA is the only agency operating in San Francisco dedicated exclusively to providing this client population with comprehensive advocacy and mentorship.
Target demographics: Children and youth in foster care
Direct beneficiaries per year: over 250 children
Geographic areas served: San Francisco
Programs: recruiting volunteers to work with and provide support for children and youth in foster care. Each volunteer makes a commitment to work with and for an assigned client child for a minimum of 18 months. Volunteers are rigorously screened and participate in a one-hour interview with two staff members.
As sworn officers of the court, SFCASA volunteers have full access to all confidential information pertaining to their client children and thus are able to advocate effectively to address children's needs. The SFCASA volunteer is often the only adult with comprehensive knowledge of the child's history and needs.
CASAs address the child's needs for 1) a safe, permanent, and nurturing home; 2) educational services appropriate to the child's needs; 3) preventive and indicated healthcare; 4) after school activities which build self-esteem and promote community and 5) a caring, consistent, and responsible adult who models constructive behavior and establishes a trusting relationship.
Simply put: SFCASA changes lives. To a foster child, who moves from placement to placement, social worker to social worker, school to school, a CASA can offer a much needed sense of consistency and security. A CASA can be a child's port in the storm, and kids with CASAs do better in school and are half as likely to re-enter the foster system. They are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to enter the delinquency court.
I have been an advocate for a 15 year old boy for 5 years. I am so thankful for the training and support from SFCASA that allows me to continue this important relationship. Advocates are sometimes the only consistent person in a foster child's life. Without SFCASA, close to 300 children and youth in SF would be without this critical support.
I've also volunteered in the SFCASA office. I can tell you the staff is frugal with their spending and generous with their time.
I have been involved with SFCASA for 16 years. I have been a child advocate, a board member and a donor. This organization serves the children in foster care who have suffered neglect and abuse. SFCASA has volunteers involved with over 250 children from ages infant thru 18. The volunteers spend time with these children assisting them with emotional issues, educational issues and above all consistent attention and caring.