CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a National child advocacy program that judges appoint to speak for the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children. By being independent investigators and advocates, volunteers can make all the difference in these children's lives. Research shows that children with a CASA volunteer are much less likely to languish in long-term foster care.
Volunteers are the heart of the program and do amazing work for children in the child welfare system. Many people have not heard about this program, and it is our job as social workers to get the message out. When trying to combat disproportionality in child welfare, this program would be a good way to give minority children a voice. Recruiting male volunteers, as well people of color is beneficial because of their perspective, and experience in life. When children of color have advocates who look like them, it makes it easier for them to open up. Often time social workers may be apart of a dominant race, come from a two parent home which may influence their decision making when working on the case. It is important for social workers to be culturally sensitive and aware of personal biases.
How can you recruit for your local CASA program?
- Reach out and host CASA events in local community centers
- Religious institutions because they are the spiritual center within communities of color
- Local NAACP, Urban League, and other social justice organizations
- Passing out flyers, information, and brochures
- Attending local community events to share information and discuss CASA
I joined CASA four years ago because I was working on my BSW and I wanted to do something meaningfully. I was interested with working with youth in foster care. CASA is a great way to give back and advocate against injustices happening to children of color. Being a CASA is rewarding, and brought joy to my heart. As a CASA you go through a 30-hour training, get swore in by a judge. Once you are a CASA you speak with everyone on the case, Guardian at Litems, biological parents, foster parents, family members, teachers, guidance counselors, case managers, and the child or children on the case. You have to write reports for the judge to read, and in my experience, the judge actually read my report. He took in consideration my opinion and recommendations. If you know someone who is interested or you are interested in become a CASA volunteer visit this website: http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301309/k.9D58/Volunteering.htm
These are just a few suggestions to get you started on targeted recruitment for CASA. Always be honest and have statistics about the child welfare system on hand. This advocacy program can make a difference in a child's life. Just think if we had more child advocates of color. There are already in the community, we just have to reach out to them, and make them aware of the great work this program does.