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 clothing
- 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
Through no fault of their own, most school-aged children in foster and state care are behind academically due to parental neglect, trauma, and frequent moves. The vast majority do not have a solid foundation of education in the home. They find it nearly impossible to catch up to grade level. The drop-out level before high school graduation is painfully high. And now, COVID-19 has created an additional barrier to learning. The Children’s Guardian Fund, in partnership with the Guardian ad Litem Program, is able to identify children who are falling behind in school and get them the help they need. Professional tutors use standardized assessment tools to identify gaps in the child’s knowledge and also address soft skills such as study techniques, organization strategies, and communication skills. Professional one-on-one tutoring costs $45 per hour. For roughly $1,200, a child can receive 6 months of intensive, weekly tutoring. Enough to give that child the tools he or she needs to become successful at learning independently.
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 aged 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
- “Totes for Teens” containing essentials for their first apartment
Volunteer GALs who have been assigned cases with teens who could benefit from this program are encouraged to contact our Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.