Normalcy and Enrichment
Most children in foster care come from chaotic and abusive environments. Many have never had a birthday cake, a book or a stuffed animal, much less the calm, undivided attention of an adult in their lives. Their needs range from the profound to the more mundane. Guardian ad Litem child advocates apply for funding through the Children’s Guardian Fund (CGF) to provide simple needs such as a prom dress or soccer cleats, or life-changing experiences such as specialized summer camps or music, art or sports lessons. Each request is tailored to a particular child’s physical and emotional well-being.
Other items we fund to make children feel normal and loved include:
- Baby stroller
- Horseback riding therapy sessions
- Back-to-school supplies
- School field trips
- 2nd pair of glasses
- Bicycles and helmets
- Prom attire and tickets
- Sports equipment
- High school yearbooks
- Clothing for work
- Driver’s licenses
Providing a Voice for Every Child
GAL and CGF are committed to the goal that each and every child should go to court and through the child welfare system with a personal advocate. To this end, CGF provides the GAL program with funds for recruitment, training and retention of trained child advocates. In addition, we partner with community sponsors to host an annual appreciation lunch for the volunteers where they can network with one another.
Funds raised by CGF make a vital difference for children in foster care and ensure that volunteer GAL child advocates are truly able to represent a child’s best interests.
Bridge to the Future/Next Step
Through this program, CGF advocates for adolescents age 13 to 23 who need extra support as they transition out of state care and into self-sufficiency. Approximately six youths per month age out of the system in the 12th Judicial District. We know that children “graduating” from foster care and group homes have a far higher rate of homelessness, incarceration and unemployment than the population as a whole. More than 80 percent will become parents within a year. Our goal is to help these children become more successful academically and acquire important life skills before they start living independently. Funds raised for this at-risk group may be used for:
- Housing and utility deposits
- Bus passes, gas cards or bikes
- Career clothing such as uniforms or dress clothes for a first job
- Mentors and peer tutors
In addition to the material support, we also employ a program director who manages community resource referrals and free tutoring. Our Bridge to the Future program was inspired by the realization that the children that we serve face high barriers to academic and personal success. We saw a way to improve outcomes by identifying and connecting with the 12th Circuit’s many not-for-profit organizations already dedicated to the welfare of children. The goal of our Bridge to the Future program is to ensure that all children in state care are connected to the resources in our community that will help them overcome those barriers.
The Children’s Guardian Fund is partnering with the Guardian ad Litem program to identify children who can benefit from this program. For example, children who are falling behind in school can be connected to existing tutoring programs or after school programs to further their academic success.
Volunteer GALs who have been assigned cases with children who could benefit from this program are encouraged to contact our Program Director, Jan Vestal, at email@example.com.
Our program recognizes children in care who have made a commitment to their studies and have shown improvement in attitude and effort. To honor their achievements, twice a year we present them with a certificate and a cash award which increases by age and grade level.