Provide individualized advocacy services for 360 foster youth in San Diego County with Voices For Children and Focusing Philanthropy

As always, Focusing Philanthropy covers all overhead costs. 100% of every donation will go to the 2024 “Brighter Futures” foster care campaign.

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THE NEED

This year, ~3,500 children will spend time in the San Diego County foster care system after suffering abuse and neglect. Though the local foster care system is made up of many dedicated professionals, there are not enough resources to give children the individual care and attention they need. San Diego social workers manage the cases of up to 25 families, attorneys represent up to 150 children, and judges hear as many as 500 cases per year. Children encounter a revolving door of child welfare professionals and there can be gaps in the delivery of critical services.

Foster youth face many challenges beyond the abuse that originally caused them to enter the foster care system. They experience frequent housing changes, school transfers, general emotional distress, and are also at risk for numerous negative outcomes later in life. Only 54% of foster youth graduate high school within four years, compared to 83% of their peers, and only 4% of former foster youth obtain a college degree by age 26, compared to 36% of the general population. One in three youth who exits foster care in California experiences homelessness within two years, and 50-85% of children involved in human-trafficking have history with the child welfare system.

The support and advocacy that CASAs provide is essential during the pandemic more than ever; children in foster care have been especially affected by COVID-19 and the resulting fluctuations between in-person and distance learning, increased levels of anxiety and depression, and reduced access to mental health services.


THE GOAL

Focusing Philanthropy and Voices For Children (VFC) are launching a campaign to raise $900,000 to provide a full year of individualized advocacy services for 360 foster youth in San Diego County.

Voices For Children recruits, trains, and deploys citizen volunteers to advocate for foster children, one-on-one, until permanency is achieved or the case is closed. These Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are often the only consistent, caring adults in a foster child’s life. Since 1980, VFC has grown to become one of the largest and most successful CASA programs in the country, ranked in the Top 3 out of nearly 950. This year, Voices for Children will provide more than 1,500 children with a CASA, and through advocacy, case assessment, or case monitoring, serve all ~3,500 children in San Diego County’s foster care system.

The “Brighter Futures” campaign will fund the recruitment, training, supervision and continued support of 225 new CASA volunteers in 2024. Information sessions and outreach efforts will include both virtual presentations and in-person events. Each CASA is assigned to a single case or sibling group, meaning a total of 360 foster children will receive a dedicated advocate to speak up for their best interests in court, school, and the community. CASAs commit to serving for at least 18 months, but many serve for the duration of a child’s time in the foster care system.


THE GIVING MATCH

From January 1 to June 30, 2024, every $1 raised by Focusing Philanthropy will be matched with $2 raised by Voices For Children, until the campaign goal of $900,000 is reached.

To qualify for the match, donations must be directed to Focusing Philanthropy and a minimum of $1,000. Donations are fully tax deductible and 100% of funds contributed will go to the 2024 “Brighter Futures” foster care campaign. All Focusing Philanthropy costs are covered by its founders.