Riverside County’s only organization designated by the courts to train volunteers who help children in foster care navigate the court system has received a $25,000 grant, it was announced Monday.

The Palm Desert-based H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, in partnership with KESQ-TV, teamed up to award Voices For Children $25,000 as part of the duo’s Coachella Valley Spotlight grant program.

“It’s wonderful that these specially trained volunteers are able to provide the compassionate advocacy that children without a consistent adult in their lives need,” said Catharine Reed, the foundation’s vice president of charitable programs.

Formed in 1980, Voices For Children trains people who serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates. About 450 children are paired with advocates in Riverside County, including 90 in the Coachella Valley.

CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge on a per case basis. Their role is to gather information and make recommendations in the best interest of the child, keeping the child’s personal wishes in mind, according to the National CASA/GAL Association.

“Voices For Children believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home and, to that end, seeks to provide a trained CASA to every child who needs one,” said Jessica Munoz, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

“This one-on-one advocacy transforms the lives of children who are navigating the foster care system, many of whom have been abused or neglected.”

Additional information about Voices For Children can be found at www.speakupnow.org.

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