Updated: Jul 10
Saturday, July 9, 2022 - July in Oklahoma is full of sun, swimming pools, barbecues, and tons of fun activities for children. Many children have the opportunity to enjoy their summer vacation by attending camps, participating in sports or having a summer job, but there are many children, living in foster care, who do not get the chance to experience these sorts of summertime activities.
Removed from home and placed in the child welfare system because their family is in crisis, these children are already facing trauma that no child should experience - yet on top of all of that, their participation in normal childhood activities with their peers often becomes an afterthought.
“Kids living in foster care can feel disconnected from other children their age because of what they are going through,” said Suzanne Hughes, Executive Director of CASA for Children. “It is important to help them feel as normal as possible. Giving them the chance to participate in normal childhood activities - and to just be a kid - can be essential to a child’s well-being.”
“Normalcy” is a term commonly used in child welfare for any experience that contributes to a child’s autonomy and social functioning. Activities associated with “normal” childhood, such as sleepovers, pool parties, and even summer jobs can be imperative to a child’s sense of security and belonging.
“Friendship and socialization are crucial for children to maintain good health and psychological well-being,” said Hughes. “While things like visitation, appointments, and therapy are essential for the children we serve, we don’t want them to get in the way of everyday activities that are also important to their development.”
Foster parents, CASA volunteers, caseworkers, and others who serve children living in foster care must work together to make normalcy a priority.
“These children have been through enough. The last thing they need is to be excluded from fun social activities with their peers,” said Hughes.
This summer, CASA for Children aims to help local children living in care to have the opportunity to partake in normal, age appropriate activities.
CASA volunteers are specially trained and appointed by judges to speak up for a child and to advocate for their unique needs in court, at school, and in other settings. CASA volunteers get to know the child and other adults in the child’s life and work with them to ensure that the best interests of the child are being met .
Ultimately, true normalcy is achieved when children are no longer in the system and have the resources and support they need to thrive - preferably back home with their family whenever safe and possible. Until then, they need a voice to speak for them. A voice to ensure they are able to participate in hobbies and activities that will help them to grow and heal.
Become a CASA volunteer and advocate for a child who needs you. No previous training or experience is required. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older, be able to pass a criminal and child welfare history background check, and have a love and desire to help children in need.
If you’re interested in learning more about CASA and what it means to be a CASA volunteer, join CASA for an online information session on Thursday, July 28, at 9 a.m. or 3 p.m. You will have the opportunity to hear from CASA staff and experienced volunteers with no obligation to join.
For more information or to obtain the link to join the online meeting, contact Jenny Crosby via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 918-685-1501.
KXMX Staff Writer
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