Over the years, CASA of Los Angeles has shared many important stories with you about our work. Stories of how children in foster care have had their lives changed through the support of their CASA volunteers – helping them towards loving and timely adoptions, walking them through the process of high school graduation and college enrollment, working with their families so they can return home. Whether a child needs help receiving healthcare services, changing their educational plan, or transitioning out of foster care, CASA volunteers, like you our generous donor, are there.
But the one area in which CASA volunteers are perhaps most needed is when a youth in foster care becomes a parent themself.
Teen pregnancies have been declining in recent decades, but that’s not the case for many young people in the foster care system.
Approximately 58% of L.A. County’s female foster youth have experienced at least one pregnancy by the age of 19 and half of young men aging out of foster care have become fathers, compared to 19% of their peers who were not in foster care.
Currently, CASA of Los Angeles serves 195 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. 10% of these youth are pregnant or parenting mothers.
Stephany is one of them.
Stephany had her first child just a few months ago at the age of 19. Stephany had been in the foster care system for three years when she met her CASA volunteer, Scott Anderson. Throughout his two years of advocacy, Scott helped Stephany get out of a group home, graduate from high school, and find a stable home.
Childhood trauma can play a serious role in how young people relate to their reproductive health. In addition, children in foster care are often moved between multiple homes and schools, which means they often lack consistent sex education both in the classroom and at home. Often, youth in foster care also do not have trusted adults from which to seek advice and guidance when it comes to this sensitive subject.
When Scott found out that Stephany was pregnant, he got her support through an organization called Nurse Family Partnership. The organization arranged for a nurse to visit Stephany at home each month to provide prenatal care for her, and continue these services until her baby’s first birthday.
By law, youth in foster care are supposed to be guaranteed reproductive healthcare, but there’s no comprehensive method of ensuring that actually happens. Because of Scott, Stephany had someone to connect her with the valuable tools available within the system to young expecting parents, and to make sure that she fully understands her choices and services.
As for Stephany, Scott could see that she had a new purpose – to provide a better life for her son. Stephany is working full-time and co-parenting with her partner.
Scott was thrilled when Stephany asked him to be there when she delivered the baby. After all he was the only adult connection she had and she could trust him. Scott was even more thrilled when Stephany asked him to be her baby’s godfather.
For parenting youth, such issues as education, career, and family planning can have more crucial consequences in their life, and the lives of their children. Having a CASA volunteer as a supportive adult to help them plan out the next steps of their lives is critical in order for them to succeed – and provide a stable and loving home for their children so that the next generation isn’t placed in foster care.
Such was the case for CASA youth Jessica*, who met her CASA volunteer Amanda Sattler only three weeks after having her first baby. Jessica was 16 years old, living in a group home. She was angry and terrified. The only thing she knew was that she wanted to have her baby and that she would do anything to provide a better life for her daughter.
Jessica didn’t have the support to visit the doctors she and her baby needed so Amanda went with them to medical appointments, and most importantly, became someone who Jessica could trust.
Jessica was inspired by her labor and delivery nurse to pursue nursing, so she asked Amanda to help her begin working towards that goal. First, Jessica needed stability in her life and that included a safe and suitable placement. Amanda, along with Jessica’s social worker, was able to advocate for Jessica to leave her group home and be placed in independent living.
Two years later, Jessica and her daughter are living in their own apartment and Jessica just received her nursing assistant certificate. It was through having a stable living environment that Jessica was able to get on track to graduate from high school and begin pursuing a nursing internship.
Stephany and Jessica are just two of the thousands of children and youth whose lives are transformed due to the work of their CASA volunteers.
These incredible men and women are committed to advocating one-on-one for children in the child welfare system. These young people would have otherwise been overlooked or forgotten by an overburdened dependency system. And every one of them deserves the support and advocacy of a CASA volunteer so they can build healthy, happy, resilient lives.
We depend on the generosity of individuals such as yourself to help us transform the lives of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
Through your support, you can impact the life of a child who needs a CASA volunteer.
Can we count on you to make a gift today?
Chief Executive Officer
P.S. A gift of $215 supports advocacy for one child for one month! Any donation you send today will help
ensure that one more child in LA County’s child welfare system will benefit from a caring champion, a volunteer
advocate working tirelessly to make sure they have every chance to thrive.