Children's Court Committee
In 2004-05 the Children’s Court Committee was reconstituted under the leadership of President Ben Tunnell. A generous legacy gift from Robert Gunzel, combined with funds previously designated for foster youth in Los Angeles, brought the fund to nearly $500,000. The mission of the newly formed Children’s Court Committee was to grant funding, up to $1,000 per child, for special needs for children who are wards of the court when no other funding is available. The Rotary Club of Los Angeles partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services and the Los Angeles County Dependency Court to find the most deserving applicants for these grants.
Los Angeles County provides for the fundamental needs for over 20,000 children within the foster care system. However, special needs that will help the children grow, prosper and enjoy their lives often times have no funding. Most children in the foster care system come from backgrounds where they have been physically, sexually or psychologically abused. They have been removed from their homes and made wards of the courts for their own protection. Often their parents are absent, incarcerated or deceased. Some have witnessed their own parent’s murder. Siblings are often separated and seldom get to visit with those they love the most. Needless to say these children have had very difficult lives.
The Children's Court Committee has 16 dedicated members who believe this is one of the most rewarding Rotary committees they have ever served on and feel blessed to be able to help these very needy young people. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney manages the money and distributes the checks to the individuals.
The committee distributes approximately $20,000 every year. The following examples illustrate how the money has been used:
5 young people who were emancipated from the foster care system upon reaching 18 years old were each given $1,000 college or trade school scholarships.
10 youth were sent to the Debutante Ball, sponsored by Supervisor Yvonne Burke, where they dressed formally, learned to dance and practiced social etiquette.
Funding to participate in cheerleading, drill team and sports programs.
Approval for medical expenses not available through MediCal, dental work, glasses and psychological treatments.
Senior expenses for class rings, year books, prom nights and photos.
Musical instruments and lessons.
Participation in the Young Marines and Law Enforcement Explorer programs were funded.
Funeral expenses were paid to help a young man bury his 2-year old son.
If you’d like further information, please email Bruce Murdoch.