Casa de Amparo: Helping Abused and Neglected Youth Find their Future

Even during a pandemic, Casa de Amparo keeps coming through. The nonprofit that since 1978 has been providing housing and safety for youth affected by and at risk of child abuse and neglect has stepped up its game thanks to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

“The money from The San Diego Foundation and the COVID-19 Community Response Fund was critically important and allowed us to buy masks, gloves, gowns, cleaning supplies, everything we needed to stay on site and be with these girls who were frightened that they would be abandoned,” said Director of Development Kathy Karpe, who added that funds helped pay for bicycles, helmets, art supplies, trampolines, and other recreational equipment to make up for the lack of activity the pandemic brought. 

Casa de Amparo operates twin programs that are making a difference. Its New Directions program subsidizes housing costs for those 18 to 25 who are transitioning from foster care. The young adults are provided with career planning courses, money management tips and life skills training, in addition to gift cards for groceries and transportation.

Casa de Amparo also operates Residential Services, a program housing 32 foster youth, from ages 12 to 18, on the Casa Kids Campus in San Marcos that opened in 2011. Residents are referred by a Child Welfare Services social worker or probation officer. When the pandemic’s impacts were first realized, youth in the program were concerned that staff they had come to know and trust would be forced to stay home because of concerns about transmitting the virus.

“You can’t understate how important philanthropy is to nonprofits like us,” Karpe said. “Sure, we get some government funding, but it doesn’t really come close to covering the cost of what we need to do. We rely on the generosity of people who donate. I don’t know if they realize the impact they are making.”

Devante is one of the young adults that Casa de Amparo supports. Once the pandemic hit, he saw his work hours slashed and was facing new financial and emotional challenges. To help, Casa de Amparo waived his rent payment early in the pandemic and also delivered a weekly box of food via donations from a local Costco and the San Diego Food Bank. Recognizing the importance of companionship, Casa de Amparo also worked with his apartment complex to get him an emotional support dog that has been helping him through this difficult time.

“The kids really bond with our staff,” Karpe said. “This generous grant has allowed us to do what we needed to do and step up to another level that is needed at this time.”

Maria is another example of San Diegans who have been impacted by COVID-19. A transitioning foster youth, Maria saw her work hours cut at an adult daycare facility. As a result, Casa de Amparo worked with her and waived her rent to reduce the financial strain during the pandemic. “We also dropped off food donations, masks, and hygiene products as needed to help her during this difficult time,” Karpe said.

As the pandemic continues, San Diegans such as Devante and Maria still need your help. Donate to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund today to provide much-needed relief to individuals and families in the region.