PRNewswire | May 22, 2023
By California CASA Association
SAN DIEGO, May 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — California Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (California CASA) applauds Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to restore $40 million for programs for children and youth in foster care in the revised FY 2023-24 budget. The $20 million state appropriations in both FY 2023-24 and FY 2024-25 will expand the vital advocacy services that nearly 12,000 CASA volunteers provide annually to 13,000 children and youth in foster care, who are very often victims of neglect, abuse, or exploitation.
“We thank Governor Newsom and the Legislature for prioritizing the needs of children and youth in foster care,” said Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, California CASA. “We were pleased to garner bipartisan support, and leadership from key legislators and budget subcommittees, in recognizing the positive impact of this funding. The model of one CASA volunteer advocating for one child works, and this investment from our state is an important validation of its power and potential.”
CASA volunteers are often the only stable, trusted adult in the life of a child in foster care; the one person who will speak up for them—in court, in school, and in the community—to make sure their voice is heard, and their needs remain the top priority. Youth in foster care assigned a CASA volunteer are more likely to perform better in school, receive more services, and achieve a permanent home.
In June 2022, Governor Newsom and the California State Legislature committed a total of $60 million over three years to support the CASA program. In the January 2023 budget, the Governor had proposed eliminating funding for years two and three of this commitment. The loss of $40 million would have resulted in fewer resources and services to support the state’s CASA programs, fewer volunteers recruited and trained, and fewer children offered a chance to thrive with the skilled and compassionate support of a CASA volunteer. California has more children and youth in foster care than any other state in the nation, approximately 80,000 in the course of a year.
“In partnership with the 44 local CASA programs across the state, we envisioned the $60 million investment as our launch pad to enhance the capacity of the entire network to recruit more volunteers and serve more children, more quickly and effectively,” explained Lawrence. “With the first year’s allocation, we were able to provide grants to each of the 44 local CASA programs to strengthen their capabilities. With the full funding restored, we can continue on this path of growth and greater impact, so that every child in California’s foster care system can have a CASA by their side if they need one.”
About California CASA Association
California CASA, a private, nonprofit organization, is the statewide association serving and supporting a network of 44 local CASA programs. California CASA provides training and resources, raises awareness for the need for CASA volunteers, and promotes legislation that benefits children in foster care. The 44 independent, nonprofit organizations, appointed by their local Superior Courts, are located in 51 of the state’s 58 counties—locations where 99% of California’s foster population live. California has more children and youth in foster care than any other state in the nation, approximately 80,000 in the course of a year. Currently, only 16% of California foster children (13,000) have a CASA volunteer advocating on their behalf, but California CASA and its Board of Directors have set a 10-year visionary goal to provide CASAs for every child who needs one. For more information, please visit www.californiacasa.org.
SOURCE California CASA Association
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