In today’s Fast Lane Drive blog, we’ll be taking a deeper look at one of the philanthropy organizations we support, Voices for Children.
Voices for Children is a charity, especially close to our hearts. They work to transform the lives of abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the foster care system. Some of our members experienced the foster care system first-hand growing up and benefited greatly from the support of nearby non-profits like Voices for Children. Given their success in advocating for those in need, we couldn’t be prouder to support their efforts.
About Voices for Children
Voices for Children is a private nonprofit founded in 1980. Their mission includes finding, training, and supporting CASA volunteers. CASAs are “Court Appointed Special Advocates,” who speak on behalf of their assigned foster children in the system. These kids often have no one to stand up for them personally, as they’re in foster care due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect from families or previous caregivers.
Voices for Children was designated by the Juvenile Dependency Court to provide CASA volunteers to the San Diego and Riverside area and is the only agency that does so. By getting to know their assigned children personally, these CASAs help judges make informed decisions on children’s future. Voices for Children’s vision is to provide a CASA to every foster child who needs one.
Their CASA Model
The concept of a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, was first created by Judge David Soukup in 1977. This Seattle judge wanted a way for courts to understand better a foster child’s needs from the child’s perspective. Soukup believed that volunteers trained for the task were more than capable of bonding with and providing these children’s perspectives. Just three years later, in 1980, Voices for Children was founded in San Diego. Meanwhile, the idea was spreading across the country.
Today, there are nearly 1,000 CASA programs, all nonprofit, operating in 49 states. Voices for Children is proud to have consistently ranked in the top three CASA programs nationwide. They’re part of the National CASA Association and the California CASA Association. This certification specifies that Voices for Children must adhere to the National CASA Association’s formal standards — which they’re more than happy to do.
What do CASAs Do?
The funds donated to Voices for Children go into providing CASAs for those in foster care. Each CASA volunteer is trained as a first-hand expert on handling abused and neglected children individually. While some foster care children are not part of the dependency system due to having semi-viable homes, CASA volunteers can still provide some support. Children removed from their homes permanently receive the most attention from CASA volunteers.
During their advocacy, CASA volunteers report to a Voices for Children Advocacy Supervisor. Advocacy Supervisors help CASAs by providing guidance and support as CASAs advocate for their assigned children. CASAs and Advocacy Supervisors work together to prepare written reports and documents for the Court. From there, a CASA volunteer will provide the court’s judge with carefully-researched background information that helps guide sound decisions about the child’s future.
The information CASAs gather ultimately helps courts determine if a child’s best future is with their previous parents or guardians or if they should be eligible for adoption or remain in foster care. The CASA will provide their professional opinion on placement and services to the judge and follow the case until it is resolved and a decision is made.
The Importance of CASAs
This set of legal proceedings is long and complex. CASAs act as “fact-finders,” thoroughly researching their case background and even providing ongoing information as the situation develops. They’ll speak on behalf of the children in the courtroom and be the child’s overseer for the case’s length.
A CASA gives children undergoing this situation someone they can trust and rely on. CASAs advocate for their child(ren) and explain the events in the child’s case to them at a level they can understand. While a scary situation, the CASA helps children comprehend why they are in court and how the judges, lawyers, and social workers will act on their behalf. While remaining objective, CASA volunteers encourage children to speak up and share their own opinions and desires. By doing so, CASAs hope to fulfill their mission of helping a child out of the children welfare system and into a safe, permanent, and loving home.
How Fast Lane Drive Supports Voices for Children
Fast Lane Drive knows that improving the well-being of at-risk children in our community is essential, and we’re proud to support Voices for Children’s efforts in advocating on their behalf. Beyond donations, Voices for Children gives community members the chance to bond with these children, who are near-always coming from heart-wrenching situations. To give them a day of fun, Fast Lane Drive’s event took a group of children on a drive through San Diego in exotic cars. They were passengers in a Ferrari 488, McLaren 720S, Porsche 911, and an Audi R8. After the drive, our members talked and hung out with the kids, getting to know them over pizza at URBN.
Fast Lane’s On-Going Philanthropic Efforts
While car clubs focus on cars, we at Fast Lane know that our efforts should always stretch beyond ourselves. A portion of our proceeds and time will always be donated to local and national charities, chosen by the club based on need and influence. We love prioritizing philanthropy and always seeing how we can outdo our own efforts from the year before. As we grow, we continue bringing even more charities into our realm of impact, and we’re open to suggestions from our partners and club members.
Raising money for charity and sharing our weekends with underserved populations isn’t just important, but meaningful and even fun. If you’re looking for a car club that loves driving as much as giving back, Fast Lane Drive might be the car club for you. Get in touch with us today using our website!