The Challenge For

San Diego's Foster Youth

THE NEED

In San Diego County, more than 5,000 children spend time in the foster care system over the course of each year, up to 3,400 of them in urgent need of advocacy and support. Sadly, many of these children have suffered horrific abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents or caregivers, and, for this reason, law enforcement has removed them from their homes and placed them into foster care. Once there, many children must deal with shifting foster care placements, unstable or unsafe living conditions, and ineffective support systems. Statistics show that due to this extreme trauma and the resulting stress, more than 25% of all foster children experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at a rate comparable to U.S. war veterans.

As they grow older in long-term foster care, these injurious experiences often shatter a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and faith in adults. Many former foster children engage in risky behaviors and experience negative outcomes later in life—substance abuse, delinquency, school drop-outs, teen pregnancy, unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration. In fact, studies show that, of the children aging out of foster care at 18-21 years of age, 25% will become homeless, 50% will be unemployed by age 24, 50% will never graduate from high school or obtain a GED, and fewer than 3% will earn a college degree. Studies have shown that as many as 20% of California prison inmates lived in foster care during their childhood.

ABOUT VOICES FOR CHILDREN

Voices for Children, founded in 1980 and now the 3rd largest CASA program in the United States, believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home and a chance for a happy life. CASAs are often the only consistent, caring adult in a foster child’s life. It is the mission of VFC to review and monitor every court file in the system, recruit and train CASA volunteers, work to provide a CASA to every child in the foster care system who needs one, and advocate to improve the lives of all foster children. Voices for Children boasts the largest cadre of CASA volunteers in the Western United States—in FY2017, there will be 1,500 CASAs serving 3,050 foster children. In addition, Voices for Children offers CASA services to Riverside County foster children, a new program that began in 2015 when the State of California Judicial Council and the Riverside Superior Court asked VFC to step in and take over what had been a failed program.

THE GIVING OPPORTUNITY

Support from this Focusing Philanthropy matching campaign will help fuel Voices for Children’s forward trajectory, and help the organization reach a record number of abused boys and girls who are living in the San Diego County foster care system.

Focusing Philanthropy is partnering with Voices for Children in 2017 to recruit and train more CASA volunteers who will advocate for foster children’s best interests in court, in schools, and in the community. Funding will also support the work VFC’s CASAs do with infants and toddlers—those foster children from newborn to 5 years old. This is the largest and fastest growing segment of the foster population in San Diego County.

In support of these goals, Focusing Philanthropy will add an extra $1 to every $2 donated to Voices for Children in San Diego through June 30, 2017, up to a total of $100,000 raised. Qualifying gifts must be $1,000 or more.

In addition to outright gifts, there will be a signature event on May 20, 2017: Wine Women & Shoes, taking place at a private estate in Del Mar, California. At the event, there will be a paddle-raise fundraising opportunity called “Fund-A-CASA” and for every $2 donated, Focusing Philanthropy will contribute an additional dollar, up to $100,000. For more information about Voices for Children, visit

www.speakupnow.org