Advocating for a Better Future
Voices for Children provides foster youth with consistent help, guidance, and friendship
Posted on May 18, 2017
A few years ago, with his son off to college and some newfound spare time on his hands, Maurice Voce began his search for the right opportunity to give back to his community. A TV commercial for Voices for Children caught his attention, and after some research, he signed up for an educational session at the organization to learn more. After two years serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) through Voices for Children, he pronounces happily, “I’m hooked.”
Voices for Children plays a crucial role in the life of children in the foster care system, providing advocates to support them, communicate with other service providers in the child’s life (therapists, foster families, educators, and the courts), and simply offer guidance and friendship. Founded in 1980 in San Diego with a lofty mission to ultimately serve every child in the foster care system, Voices for Children has doubled its operating budget since 2010, while the number of children it serves has tripled. Still, it remains 94 percent privately funded, and prides itself on efficiency, with 80 percent of its expenses directly program-related. The volunteer CASAs currently number 1,600, and served 3,190 foster children in San Diego and Riverside counties in the organization’s latest fiscal year.
For Voce, who balances his commitment to his Voices for Children case with his career as Chief Marketing Officer at Carlsbad-based beauty company Skin Authority, the rewards of connecting with his case child far exceeded any expectations he had going into the program. Recalling the first time his case child called him on the phone simply to talk, Voce says he realized that there was trust forming in their relationship, and he saw how important his role was in this child’s life. “It just hit me. I thought, ‘This works! This is an amazing thing!’” Encouragement comes, too, from the organization itself, which Voce lauds for its commitment to continuing education, and connecting and supporting its CASA volunteers. “The reinforcement that you get not only from your child, but from the team who wants to have such a good outcome and acknowledges that you play a vital role in that outcome is so rewarding, and was something that I did not expect,” he says.
Though he acknowledges the foster system does have its challenges, he is enthusiastic about the dividends that come from the role, and encourages others to consider becoming a CASA. “It can be extremely satisfying, even in difficult times, because you see that you’re making a positive change, and it’s joyous.”
Voices for Children’s annual fundraising event, Wine Women and Shoes, will take place May 20 at 2pm at the Canfield-Wright estate in Del Mar. 858.569.2019, speakupnow.org Deanna Murphy
Maurice Voce: Photo by Bob Stefanko All other Photography by Luis García and John Trice Photography