CASA Thanks Orange County Senator Josh Newman for Helping Youth in Foster Care with an Infusion of $60 Million Dollars over Three Years
Excerpted from Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children
Many elected officials have some familiarity with the difficulties faced by youth in the foster care system, but only a couple know firsthand how significant those challenges really can be. Here in Orange County, Senator Josh Newman volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) to a youth in foster care so his understanding of these complexities is deeply personal.
Senator Newman relates, “Those couple of years volunteering as a CASA gave me a set of insights I otherwise would not have had. It’s been very useful in the legislature and I’m better for it.” He adds, “We have to remember that even in Orange County, which is generally thought of as a very prosperous place, if you spend one day in the juvenile courts, you get a very vivid sense that is not true for everybody.”
Senator Josh Newman represents California’s 29th Senate District. He serves on the Budget Committee as well as a subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the courts. It was in that capacity that he played a critical role in helping California CASA secure a state appropriation that will total $60 million dollars over three years. The funds are designed to augment CASA’s work to build-out resources, expand training, recruit more volunteers and ultimately, serve more children and young adults in foster care.
The funding was touch-and-go due to California’s budget challenges since the state emerged from the Covid pandemic. Senator Newman maintained, “It’s important to preserve this funding especially when compared to other things we might fund. CASA is largely run by volunteers and philanthropic donations so the $60 million is a relatively small investment for a massively productive return.”
Senator Newman’s passion for the work CASA does is evident as he quickly lists the benefits of a CASA to a youth in dependency care. “These kids are really in need, the statistics are pretty grim, but when you introduce an advocate there is a huge improvement in likely outcomes. Every youth we can get through high school, get into college, prevent from becoming homeless, and lead towards self-sufficiency is going to save us collectively a really big amount of money. Supporting CASA is a modest investment when compared to what it costs to house a homeless person or pay for incarceration, and sadly those are the statistics that correlate to foster youth once they’re emancipated. So this is a good investment which yields a huge return.”
Sharon Lawrence, California CASA CEO, said of the budget appropriation, “We are so grateful to Governor Newsom and the bipartisan support of the State Legislature. These resources empower CASA to continue on the path of growth and greater impact. We appreciate the shared commitment to ensuring that all youth in California’s foster care system have both a voice and the services they need and deserve. We also appreciate Senator Newman for sponsoring a resolution earlier this year declaring March 23rd CASA Appreciation Day.”
CASA OC’s CEO, Regan Dean Phillips echoed these sentiments by saying, “We currently have almost 300 youth right here in the Orange County foster care system on a waiting list hoping to be matched with a CASA volunteer. These resources will help us connect more children with an advocate which can often lead to improved outcomes for that child.”
Senator Newman closed by saying, “CASA has one of the largest and best impacts on outcomes for youth in foster care of anyone in that child’s life. A youth without a CASA is in a less promising position than a youth with a CASA. That’s something we should afford these kids. They didn’t ask to be in the dependency care system and it’s a really challenging place to be.” He adds, “I’m so grateful for the experience of being a CASA and the work that goes into making CASA volunteers successful. It’s so important we find good people both to become CASAs and to participate in the foster care system overall.”
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