John Baker- PR Director International Organizations-20,March,2018

Program:Randy introduced the speaker, John Baker of Voices for Children (VFC).John spent 20 years as a Navy carrier pilot, pit crew at Indy 500, PR Director of international organizations, crew and navigator of an ocean sailboat racing team, husband, father and grandfather. But nothing brings him the satisfaction of being a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
How do children enter the foster care system? They are abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents and the County takes over and chaos ensues. Some stats for foster kids: 48% graduate HS, 2% college, 25% are incarcerated in their lives, make up 25% of sexual trafficking victims, average time in foster system is 40 months, minimum time 18 months, ages 0-17.99 years, many are severely affected by fetal alcohol and/or drug syndrome. SD county has ~5000 foster kids at any time. How to help these kids? 38 years ago Voices for Children was created to train and administer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s). CASA’s are normal people that want to help and make a huge difference. Normally, each foster child receives 40 mins. / year of attorney attention and 40 mins. / year of a judges time, and 1 hr / month from a social worker that has a case load of 25-30 kids, all of which is grossly inadequate. CASA’s make up the difference by getting to know the child and assessing the need for additional services. They work with the foster parents, teachers, doctors and courts. As a sworn officer of the court, CASA’s have access to sealed records that allow them insights that aide in helping the child. CASA commitments/requirements: 15-20 hrs. / month, 18 months minimum per child, one child or set of siblings at a time, must be 21 years, clean driving record (<3 points), and pass background check. John has had a few cases so far and shared the experience – some success and some failure. First was two brothers, separated. A sophomore that couldn’t read when they started, he graduated and is now in his second year at city college. The older brother dropped out of city after a couple weeks and is back home with his abusive father, watching TV and collecting food stamps.