Although these statistics pertain to children in Foster Care, Foster Care is rarely the reason behind them. Childhood trauma, which these children bring with them into care, has detrimental long-term effects if the appropriate services are not provided to children who have experienced it.

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42% of Foster Children will not graduate from High School

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97% of Foster Children will not graduate from College

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75% of students in Foster Care are performing below grade level

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Teen girls in Foster Care are 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant by the age of 19

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65% of children in long-term Foster Care will develop a mental illness

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In some parts of the Country, over 80% of inmates were former Foster Children

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50% of children with a CASA/GAL Volunteer will not re-enter Foster Care, but live in a safe and permanent home

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CASA/GAL Volunteers decrease the risk of Foster Children entering Juvenile Detention by 45%

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Children served by a CASA/GAL Volunteer are 8 times more likely to graduate High School

“CASA/GAL Volunteers drastically improve the outcomes of children in Foster Care, more than any other individual working in Child Protection.”

“Because of her dedication, I was given a second chance. She helped keep me out of Juvie and helped me realize that my future was up to me – not my past.”

“Without the CASA/GAL Program, most of these children would be lost in an over-burdened system. These volunteers can literally save these kids.”

“The one constant I see in children’s lives is the CASA/GAL Volunteer. I thank them for all the things they have taught me about being a better judge and about being a better human being.”

-Judge Robert Brutinel

Due to gaps in representation, the state is not meeting its mandate to make sure each child in Foster Care receives appropriate representation.

 

 

There are 44 counties and 7 guardian ad litem programs which provide representation for children in Foster Care. In fiscal year 2017, 81 percent of children and youth (2,692 children) were served by child advocacy programs. Nineteen percent percent  (631 children) did not have an advocate looking out for their best interests. This is due to low volunteers and lack of funding.

Idaho Child Protective Act

Children 11 years and younger shall be appointed a guardian ad litem.

Youth 12 and older shall be appointed a public defender.

Children and youth may have both a guardian ad litem and a public defender.

Consistency and stability are the state’s biggest challenges in providing effective representation to children and youth.

Volunteers are statistically proven to provide better advocacy for children in Foster Care than a paid attorney, case manager, and staff worker. The reasons are fairly simple:

1) Time – Due to the high density of cases and low budgets, professional organizations are forced to take high case loads, diminishing their capacity to thoroughly investigate each child’s circumstances and thereby provide thorough advocacy on their behalf. Volunteers will serve an average of 1-2 cases at a time, making them less prone to being overworked and more able to dedicate time to these children’s lives and welfare.

2) Community Experience – Because our volunteers are recruited from within these children’s communities, they often have a deeper knowledge of the challenges these children are facing, access to resources or unique problem solving, as well as different life perspectives and professional experiences these children can relate and aspire to.

3) Money – “The child welfare system could not afford to provide a comparable level of advocacy through non-volunteer approaches. In 2013, volunteer advocates contributed 5.75 million advocacy hours, equivalent to $290 million in taxpayer dollars if compensated for their services.” ~National CASA Association

 

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Recommendations

The Legislature should facilitate a coordinated, collaborative effort to help strengthen representation for children and youth in child protection cases.

February 2018 Report. View the report: www.legislature.idaho.gov/ope/