Description of Project/Program
More than 70% of the foster youth referred for CASA-OC’s services are between the ages of 13-21, a pivotal age group, where youth are preparing to transition to adulthood. Many have spent their entire lives in the dependency system, and are looking at aging-out, completely unprepared for adulthood. Studies show that nearly 40% of unsupported foster youth will end up on public assistance; nearly 45% will be homeless by the age of 21; approximately 50% will be unemployed, and sadly, 30% of the young men will become imprisoned.
Our solution is to begin intensive life-skills training when foster youth reach the age of 13. Our CASA advocates are trained to provide one-on-one mentoring to help their youth complete high school and learn independent living skills, increasing self-sufficiency. They guide them in college applications, scholarships, how to get a job, resume building, interview preparation, budget management, banking, and finding affordable housing.
Description of how the Impact Giving grant funds will be used:
The funds will be used to recruit, screen and train 200 new CASAs through CASAs advocate training program.
High Impact & Life Transforming
Unsupported foster youth end up getting lost in a broken system and bouncing between homes and schools. Without guidance 43% of these youth will never receive a high school diploma and less than 3% will graduate college. Without a high school diploma, it’s hard to find a job—47% of former foster youth are unemployed and 71% report salaries of less than $25,000 annually. In contrast, youths with CASAs have a more than 90% chance of graduating high school.
One of CASA’s core objectives is education. Transitioning foster teens get support for their education, including access to college and trade school readiness programs. They also are educated about adult life skills pertaining to finances, housing, employment, and more.
CASA-OC has been in operation for 36 years. Our team works tirelessly to maintain current donor relations and to build new partnerships. As we are 88% privately funded, CASA maintains an annual giving program to encourage individual contributions; a robust grants program that seeks funding from a variety of foundation, corporate and government organizations, and holds two signature special events and several smaller events, all of which continue to be successful.
For over three decades CASA-OC has deployed an army of unpaid, highly-trained, volunteers in order to leverage critical community resources. Most of the youth we serve have fallen through the cracks of the child welfare system. We bring a voice to their needs and help them to stand out and be recognized as individuals. Our program brings together placement staff, foster parents, social workers, educators, counselors, attorneys and judges to collaborate on how to best support these special youths.
CASA-OC’s Program is an innovative approach to preparing Orange County’s transitioning teens for success in adulthood, through our mentor-advocacy services. Due to the unique challenges that older foster youth face, we designed a program to ensure their transition to adulthood goes smoothly, reduces their likelihood of living in poverty, or ending up homeless and dependent. By deploying this army of unpaid, high-trained volunteers, CASA-OC saves Orange County $1.7 million annually, which is the value of the service our volunteers provide to the Social Services and Juvenile Dependency Court systems.
CASA-OC has three methods for evaluating the success of our programs, including information input into our program database, Optima and two annual surveys–one targeted toward our volunteer advocates and another toward the children we serve. The data that results from these evaluations is reviewed by management staff on a semi-annual basis to identify successes, determine challenges and to change our program to increase the rate of success both on an individual and system-wide basis.
Organization’s Mission Statement
CASA provides a powerful voice for youth in the child welfare system through a unique one-on-one relationship with trained and supervised court appointed volunteer advocates.
Link to the website: https://www.casaoc.org/