Teen Starts NGO To Support Foster Care Services
Photo : Vaishali Jha (R) with Serena Misley, director of family linkage, Rebekah Children’s Services.
By India-West Staff
The foster care system in the U.S. is far from perfect but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help make a change.
Driven by her determination to help these vulnerable children, Indian American student Vaishali Jha founded Caregena in April 2022.
The 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization strives to support foster care centers in the San Francisco Bay Area by raising funds and advocating for local foster children.
Foster care provides a nurturing and stable family environment for children who cannot reside with their birth parents until family issues can be resolved with the assistance of foster families, Jha, a junior at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, CA, and president of Caregena, told India-West.
“Caregena aims to harness the potential of the foster care system and the compassion of foster families,” she said. “I believe that every child and teenager deserves an opportunity to learn and develop self-confidence while nurturing their emotional well-being.”
Under Jha’s leadership, Caregena has expanded its reach by establishing chapters in different states and organizing donation drives and fundraisers.
The NGO receives contributions from supporters within the community, said Jha.
In 2022, Caregena hosted two fundraising events to support foster care organizations, collecting supplies and donations worth $8,500. During another event, it raised about $200 and created 40 holiday cards which were donated to Rebekah Children’s Services to be given as holiday gifts.
The other foster care organizations that Caregena has supported include Child Advocates of Silicon Valley and Help One Child.
In addition to donation drives, Caregena also held an event at Village Square Library in San Jose, CA, in collaboration with NEXTGENKIDS4U Sept. 18, 2022. Targeted towards children, this event was centered around the creation of care cards and crafts for children at foster care centers.
“The objective of this event was to engage children in positive, constructive activities while also raising awareness of our mission within the local community,” Jha said. Alongside this event, they also held a fundraiser selling snacks and sweets, with all of the proceeds being donated to foster care organizations.
Caregena recently worked on a podcast with Serena Misley, director of family linkage at Rebekah Children’s Services, where they focused on the impact of foster care and how the public can help support the system by joining the Caregena community.
In recognition of its efforts, in April, Caregena was honored with the Mayor’s Commendation Award which was presented by San Jose City Councilmember Domingo Candelas.
For more information, visit officialcaregena.com.