By Charlie Tardibuono, Executive Director, Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation
Separated families and children in foster need special support in trying times. Many of their needs go unmet, but members of our community are joining together to change that.
Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation (YKFKF) staff and other community partner agencies find that the opportunities to help vulnerable foster youth seem endless. We offer a variety of programs designed to meet their needs in several key, often-neglected areas. From the recently opened Family Visitation Center to the other eight progams provided to our communities, we see positive changes in children impacted by difficulties during times of family separation.
At YCFKF we focus our efforts in supporting care providers such as the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) who in turn provide support and advocacy for youth in the foster care system. CASAs are trained volunteers, appointed by judges within the Yavapai County Juvenile Court system, who represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings.
While YCFKF desires that family separations are prevented before they happen, it is a reality that separations will occur. In these cases we seek to provide supporting programs that will lead to family reunification or, at the very least, provide tools to minimize the impact felt by children in foster care.
In the area of education, we offer a wonderful program called Keys to Success (KTS). This program is designed to provide career development services for youth aging out of foster care, leading them to discover their potential and path to enter the workforce and begin independent living.
In Arizona nearly 800 youth age out as they turn 18 but find themselves ill-equiped to become self-sufficient. Many youth find themselves lacking in the basic life skills that help them effectively transition into adulthood. The KTS program goals help to empower participants to make informed decisions about their future and build competencies that establish a foundation for career and life achievement.
Studies have found that youth mentored with these life skills have reduced rates of homelessness, imprisonment, and teen pregnancy, and show an increase in successful educational pursuits and job stability. Due to the positive impact of KTS, YCFKF is always looking for ways to expand the impact and effectiveness of this program.
YCFKF is pleased to be involved within the county in supporting families and youth in the foster care system. It is encouraging to see the active support and deeply caring citizens who participate in the work of prevention, reunification, and education and it is an honor to serve those in need.
For more information about the YCFKF, visit https://yavapaicasaforkids.org.