Each May, during National Foster Care Month, we take the time to raise awareness of the children and families involved in the foster care system and the need for more people to step up to help them.
“With everything the world is facing right now, it might be easy to forget about these children and families and what they’re going through,” said Suzanne Hughes, Executive Director of CASA for Children. “But they need support from their community now more than ever.”
Children go into the foster care system when their family is in crisis. There is a common misconception that these children are saved when they enter foster care, and no further help for them is needed. This could not be further from the truth. Foster care is important for protecting children temporarily. It is not meant to be a permanent solution.
“We’re grateful to the many wonderful foster families who open their homes to children in our community,” said Hughes. “What some people don’t understand, however, is that too often, these children have been taken away from everything and everyone they know. Research shows that kids do better when they can stay connected with their family and community, and kids in foster care are no exception.”
This is where Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA volunteers, come into play.
CASA volunteers are everyday citizens who are specially trained and appointed by judges to advocate for a child or sibling group while they are in the foster care system. Volunteers advocate for the child in court, school, and other settings; and get to know everyone involved in the child’s life including their parents, foster parents, teachers, doctors, and family.
CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for these children to be reunified with their parents whenever safe and possible. When reunification is not an option, they advocate for the child to be placed in a loving, adoptive home. In all cases, CASA volunteers are a steadfast, consistent presence for the children they serve, making sure they are safe and have the resources and connections they need to grow and thrive.
CASA is always seeking more community members to become CASA volunteers, and with the current health crisis, the need is even more urgent.
“The COVID-19 crisis is affecting us all, especially children and families in the foster care system,” said Hughes. “Like the rest of us, they’re facing things like increased stress, physical and mental health risks, reduced access to goods and services, and social isolation. They need someone on their side that can help them to feel safe and connected.”
CASA is committed to continuing to advocate for children and families through the current pandemic and are hopeful others will consider joining the CASA movement.
The volunteer recruitment, screening and training process have all moved online in order to continue to expand the CASA volunteer roster. Online classes are forming now for Muskogee, Wagoner, and Sequoyah Counties to begin on May 18th.
For more information on CASA for Children visit the CASA website: www.casaok.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KXMX News Staff
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