Building Bridges, Changing Lives: Our Collective Impact on Local Foster Youth in 2023

As we approach the start of 2024, we at Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation can do so with cheer! We’ve achieved a great deal for the current/former foster youth of Yavapai County with the help of our generous donors, sponsors, volunteers, and community partners. Together, we’ve impacted the lives of over 350 youth through our nine programs designed to enrich lives.

While all of this may sound good, what does some of that impact look like? Keep reading to find out.

Helping Foster Youth Have a Brighter Future

We all know children are our future. Foster youth who age out of care face many barriers to a successful future. According to the National Foster Youth Alliance, 20% of youth who age out of foster care will be homeless, only 50% will be gainfully employed, only 3% will secure a post-secondary education, and 70% of females will become pregnant before the age of 21.

On top of that, about 1 in 5 of every prisoner in the US spent time in foster care. With these staggering statistics, youth aging out of the foster care system need our help for a prosperous future. To ensure current/former foster youth in Yavapai County get that opportunity, we fund a program in Yavapai County called Keys to Success.

The Keys to Success program is designed to help youth overcome barriers to success while planning for and working towards a bright future. In 2023, there were 35 youth, ages 16-21, who enrolled in the Keys to Success Program. They were able to:

  • Identify short and long-term career goals
  • Prepare for and secure employment
  • Identify and complete education/training that aligns with their career plans
  • Develop life skills and build upon personal interests
  • Connect to partnering organizations that provide additional services or resources.

The Keys to Success program really mades a difference; here’s how:

  • 80% of program youth secured employment
  • 75% of program youth retained employment for 30 days or longer
  • 79% of program youth enrolled in post-secondary or vocational training
  • 78% of program youth gained employable skills or aptitude within six months of intake.

Bringing Families Together

In most cases, when a child is removed from a home and placed in foster care, reunification with their parents is the goal of the courts. Those working to get their children back are required to have supervised visits with their children. These visits are critical in maintaining a meaningful parent-child relationship and bond. The visits are intimate and due to a lack of dedicated spaces in Yavapai County for these visits, they are taking place in public spaces like the library or in institutionalized places like the DCS office.

We at the Yavapai CASA for Kids offer a homelike, safe, and private place for these visits to take place. In March of 2023, we expanded our Family Visitation Center to include a location in Cottonwood. Between the two centers, there were over 760 visits, benefiting 83 families seeking reunification, and accommodating them for over 2,110 hours of family time!

Filling in the Gaps

Anyone with children knows they are expensive to clothe and inflation hasn’t made the situation better. Despite the cost of living rising, in nearly 15 years, the State of Arizona hasn’t increased the annual clothing allowance of $150 it provides per child.

We at the Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation ensure each child in foster care, under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Courts in Yavapai County, receives an allowance with distributions in the Fall and Spring to supplement what the state provides through our Supplemental Card program.

In 2023, we invested a total of $109,300 to provide this allowance for 278 youth in which

  • 61.8% were ages 0-11
  • 22% were residing in group homes
  • 65% of the cases originated in the Prescott Juvenile Courts
  • 10% were former foster youth who are now enrolled in voluntary foster care.

More to Come

The above is just a snippet of the total impact; together, the community has made in support of local foster youth. This report doesn’t cover half of the Foundation’s programs as we, at the Foundation, are still in the process of getting final figures for 2023. We will share a complete update with personal impact stories sometime in 2024.

For now, we wanted to share the figures we do have and extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our supporters. Together, we are providing Yavapai County’s most vulnerable youth with everything they need to succeed. Thank you for being a part of the mission and happy New Year!