Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - May is designated as National Foster Care Month. A 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 support them.
Last year, there were hundreds of children in the Oklahoma foster care system.
“There are children right here in our communities, in our neighborhoods,” said Suzanne Hughes, Executive Director of CASA for Children. “They need support from their community.”
Children go into the foster care system when their family is in crisis. There is a common misconception that once these children have been removed from their homes they are safe and no further help for them is needed. “This could not be further from the truth,” said Hughes. “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 people don’t understand, however, is that too often these children have been taken away from everything and everyone they know,” Hughes said. “Research shows that kids see more success when they can stay connected with their family and community, and kids living in foster care are no exception.”
This is where CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, from CASA for Children come into play.
CASA volunteers are specially trained and appointed by judges to advocate for a child or sibling group while they are in the foster care system. They 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, family members and many others.
CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for these children to be reunited with their parents whenever safe and possible. In fact, a core part of the volunteer’s role is to help create and strengthen a lifetime network of relatives, family friends, and other committed adults who can support the child and their parents throughout their involvement with foster care and beyond - increasing the likelihood for a successful reunification. When reunifications are not an option, CASA volunteers advocate for a child to live with another relative, family friend, or to be placed in an adoptive family.
In all cases, CASA volunteers are the steadfast, consistent presences for the children they serve, making sure they are safe and have the resources they need to grow and thrive.
CASA for Children is in desperate need of more community members to step up and become CASA volunteers. Community members who can spend a few hours each month to support these children and their families.
“Children in foster care need a dedicated advocate,” said Hughes. “They need someone on their side. Someone who can make them feel safe and connected. We hope you will consider joining the CASA movement.”
Throughout the pandemic, CASA for Children has fought to continue to provide volunteer advocates for children in need of a voice. The volunteer application and training process have been moved online allowing volunteers to complete their screening and training from the comfort and safety of their own home.
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