Monday, May 11, 2020
Each May, during National Foster Care Month, CASA takes 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, 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 are grateful to the many wonderful foster families who open their homes to children in our community. 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 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 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 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. 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.
We are committed to continuing to advocate for children and families through the 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 18.