connect Winner / 2015
Be a Voice for LAs Foster Care Children!
The 30,000 children under the care of the Dependency Court in L.A. County are hurt, frightened, and confused children in desperate need of support and advocacy services -- a need that trained, court-appointed CASA volunteer advocates fill. CASA of Los Angeles will recruit 250 more volunteers to help these children navigate not only the trials of the courtroom but the trials of a challenged childhood.
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- CASA of Los Angeles helps children in foster care from everywhere in Los Angeles County.
How do you plan to use these resources to make change?
- Engage residents and stakeholders
- Expand a pilot or a program
- Recruit and train Angelenos to advocate for our city's most vulnerable children.
How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?
- Rates of volunteerism
- Residential segregation (Dream Metric)
Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” For LA’s abused and neglected children, LA’s soul is revealed to be diverse, hopeful, challenged, determined, and sadly, in desperate need of connection. CASA/LA creates a connection between an adult volunteer and a neglected child that transforms the volunteer’s life as much as it changes the child’s. By uniting these multiple generations, CASA of Los Angeles responds to the needs of our community’s most vulnerable children with the knowledge of our city’s most brilliant, compassionate, and committed adults.
Being a CASA is unlike any other volunteer opportunity in the city. CASAs become a critical part of the foster care youth’s life - they get to know their families and caregivers, they work with their teachers and counselor, they connect them to services and advocate for what they need in the courtroom, and they become a stable, long-term adult who cares about the child without ever being paid to do so.
Every child faces challenges in life. From homework to bullies, from fights with their siblings to issues with their parents, but for children in foster care, every single one of those problems is magnified, overwhelming children who already struggle with resiliency. They are alone and afraid. They have often been removed from a traumatic home life only to be transferred to a strange placement with strange people, having to negotiate not only the social rules of a new school, but a whole new set of children, who have come from equally traumatized homes. It is not surprising that children in foster care experience the following distressing consequences:
• 85% of foster youth live with serious mental health challenges • 37% will not finish high school • 33% of girls in foster care became pregnant by age 17 • 27% of the homeless population spent time in foster care • 25% of youth aging out of foster care will be incarcerated within two years
There is no more critical cause through which Angelenos can connect than its most vulnerable children - children who have no voice. Through LA2050, CASA will recruit and train 250 new volunteers in 2016, a significant increase over any previous year. In the next few years, CASA plans to serve 10% of the 30,000 children in the foster care system. By connecting Angelenos, we can make that goal happen, revealing the kindness, compassion, and commitment that is Los Angeles.
Please explain how you will evaluate your work.
CASA/LA currently tracks all key data elements, i.e. how many children we serve, how many CASAs are serving said youth, the number of children on our waitlist, and how many more CASA volunteers are needed to serve that waitlist. In addition, we also track case progress. When a case is assigned, both the Senior Program Coordinator and the CASA volunteer will examine the case and will rate the status and level of risk of the child on a baseline scale along the three core dimensions of safety, permanency and wellbeing. We will be documenting in the database the initial assessment related to these dimensions; the advocacy goals and plans (steps and procedures to be implemented); the degree to which the plan is then implemented; and how the assessment of safety, permanency, and wellbeing measures changes over time. The overall goal of CASA/LA’s evaluation plan is to determine if inputs are leading to effective outcomes.
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Money (financial capital)
- Volunteers/staff (human capital)
- Publicity/awareness (social capital)
- Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
- Community outreach
- Network/relationship support
- Quality improvement research