Friday, May 27, 2016

Bay Area CASA Organizations Launch Campaign To Recruit Male Volunteers
Men and Minorities Needed to Serve as Advocates and Role Models for Foster Youth

Ten Bay Area nonprofit organizations that recruit, train and support Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteers have formed a collaborative and launched a widespread awareness campaign aimed at recruiting more men and women throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area to serve as volunteer advocates, mentors and role models for children in foster care. 

“We’re looking for a few good men to volunteer as CASAs,” says Phil Ladew, associate and legal director for California CASA Association. “Nearly half the children in foster care are male – so we definitely need more male role models.” Additionally, Ladew says all CASA programs in the Bay Area are committed to recruiting more people of color to better reflect the children and families they serve. 

The collaborative is comprised of CASA agencies from Napa County to Monterey County and includes: Napa CASA, A Voice for Children, CASA of Solano County, CASA of Sonoma County, Marin CASA Program, CASA of San Mateo County,  San Francisco CASA Program, Alameda County CASA, CASA of Contra Costa, Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, and CASA of Santa Cruz County. 

There are 7,190 foster children in Bay Area communities, removed from their homes through no fault of their own. Last year, the Bay Area Collaborative served a network of more than 1,902 volunteers who advocated for approximately 2,431 foster children. The collaborative’s goal is to serve an additional 180 children this year, thus serving 2,800 children by 2017. 

The campaign is funded by both by a grant from the National CASA Association and funds contributed from CASA agencies that make up the collaborative. The marketing firm Mogo Interactive is overseeing the $50,000 six-month-long campaign, which aims to spread the word about CASA volunteer opportunities for men and women in the above mentioned counties. The campaign’s slogan, Be the Change in a Foster Child’s World, involves geo-targeted online display and search ads.

While there are many different mentoring programs available to volunteers, CASA advocates are court-appointed, and they  can thoroughly research every aspect of a child’s case thereby gaining a comprehensive perspective on what the child needs in order to thrive. In a life full of uncertainty and endless change, CASAs are consistent and caring adults who assist their child in accessing needed resources, follow their school progress, and speak up for their child’s best interests in court. They maintain complete records about the case, submit reports and attend court hearings. CASA volunteers stay with their case until their child has a safe, loving home. 

Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer can visit the collaborative’s page on the California CASA website to find a CASA organization in their area. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to register online to attend a Volunteer Orientation session in their county to learn about the role and requirements of becoming a CASA volunteer.