Voices For Children: Advocating for the Future of Miami-Dade's Foster Care Youth
Sep 3, 2023
In a society where the most vulnerable often struggle to be heard, one organization stands as a beacon of hope for the children caught in the tumultuous currents of the foster care system. Voices for Children has dedicated itself to addressing the needs and concerns of the children in Miami-Dade County’s foster care system. This organization provides a voice for these often-overlooked children and offers crucial programs to enrich their lives during times of uncertainty.
Voices For Children has carved out a vital niche in the community through its commitment to the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program. The court appoints trained GAL volunteers to protect and advocate for a child’s best interest in foster care. They work one-on-one with the child or siblings to meet their needs. The GAL offers an empathetic and objective voice that speaks for the children’s best interests within these courtrooms, where legal jargon and bureaucratic intricacies reign. For many children, the GAL is a lifeline that ensures they are noticed in an overburdened legal and social service system. These dedicated advocates champion essential services and resources that pave the way for a brighter future for the children they serve.
"We play a pivotal role in the ecosystem of our community’s child welfare system and especially making sure that we are expediting permanency for kids," said Kadie Black, president and CEO of Voices for Children. «Permanency means kids can either go home (reunification), be adopted, be in permanent guardianship, or age out of foster care. We know that kids do better when they have a guardian. They find permanency quicker. They’re safer because the guardian ad litem visits the child once a month, assesses the children’s needs, and then makes recommendations to the judge.»
Black is a true veteran of child welfare advocacy and community building. With over two decades of experience in this domain, Kadie’s unwavering dedication and passion make her an exemplary fit for her role as president and CEO. Her journey into this field began at 19 when she became a Guardian ad Litem volunteer. However, her connection to this cause runs deeper. Her mother, Joni Goodman, was a pivotal figure in the Guardian ad Litem program, and her collaboration with now Mayor Daniella Levine Cava laid the foundation for Voices For Children in 1984. Voices For Children has transformed into a $4.5 million safety net, catering to the most vulnerable children in the community.
The impact of Voices doesn’t stop at the courtroom doors. Through its financial support, the organization addresses the comprehensive needs of these children—health, education, and social integration. Initiatives like the Independent Living Project provide advocacy and support for youths transitioning out of foster care. At the same time, the It Takes A Village Life Scholarship Program paves the way for college education, stability, and empowerment. The organization’s commitment also extends to initiatives like providing essentials through the Comfort Closet, arranging extracurricular activities to nurture talents, and aiding the transition of foster care youth into independent adulthood.
There are several ways for the community to contribute to this noble cause. Individuals can volunteer as guardians ad litem, becoming a consistent presence in the lives of these children. According to Black, to provide comprehensive representation for every child in the foster care system, the organization ideally needs 700 volunteer guardians ad litem. Currently, they have around 400.
To address the immediate material needs of these youth, Voices for Children organizes drives for clothing, personal care items, and school supplies. Donations can also be made to support their efforts financially, empowering the organization to expand its reach and impact.
In October, Voices is hosting its annual fundraising luncheon, which generates an invaluable amount toward the organization’s programming. The generosity of individual donors further fuels Voices for Children’s mission, enabling them to provide fundamental necessities like clothing and school supplies to the children under their care.
Black concluded by saying, "everybody can get involved in supporting kids in foster care. If you can’t adopt, you can foster. If you can’t foster, you can give. And if you cannot give, you can volunteer. We must care for these children, the most vulnerable of our community’s children, because they have no other support system. I think that it’s important that everybody figure out where they fit in."
Interested parties are encouraged to connect with Voices for Children through social media platforms to stay informed about upcoming events and opportunities to make a difference. Visit beavoice.org to learn more.