The Rivers of Hope Foundation, founded by the quarterback of the San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers and his wife Tiffany to support the needs of at-risk and abused children, particularly those living in foster care, has awarded a grant of $60,000 to Voices for Children (VFC) in San Diego.
The grant helps fund VFC’s Infants and Toddlers Program and the critical needs of San Diego County’s youngest foster children, newborn to five years old. It will help VFCassign specially trained Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) to at least 36 infants and toddlers, and ensure that these children are cared for and hopefully placed in “forever families” while they are still young. The Rivers of Hope grant will provide approximately 24% of the budget for this program for one year, with the remaining funds coming from other private donors. Funding also supports an extensive evaluation and outcomes study. Rivers said, "Voices For Children's Infants and Toddlers Initiative is a program that super-serves the foster kids of San Diego county. And that's exactly what my Foundation is all about. We are privileged to work with Sharon and her staff at Voices For Children on this program."
VFC President/CEO Sharon Lawrence remarked, “It is a great honor to have been selected by the Rivers of Hope Foundation for this wonderful grant. We are so grateful to Philip and Tiffany Rivers, who have been truly visionary in their philanthropic focus on abused and abandoned children. Thanks to them, many children have been adopted from fostercare, and will be able to experience the normal joys of childhood, safe and secure within a family that loves them.”
It is a sad fact that infants and toddlers remain in foster care longer and re-enter care more often than older children. VFC’s Infant and Toddlers Program has the ultimate goal of moving children into permanent homes as quickly as possible so they may develop the early childhood bonds and emotional resiliency that will enable them to thrive in life.
The program addresses an urgent community need and will transform the lives of San Diego’syoungest and most vulnerable citizens. These innocent victims often pay a high price for their parents’ abuse, suffering a myriad of physical, emotional, and mental health problems. For infants and toddlers, time is of the essence. Each week they spend in the system increases their chances of developmental compromises and negative future outcomes. Although infants and toddlers comprise nearly 40% of San Diego County’s foster youth population, currently barely 6% have CASAs to be their voice in court and in the community. This new initiative aims to change that.