Golden Crescent CASA seeks volunteers in the African-American community
June 12, 2014 at 1:12 a.m.
Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery in the United States. It is a day to commemorate the achievements, history and rich heritage of the African-American community.
Unfortunately, there are African-American children in foster care who often lose touch with their culture and community traditions when removed from their homes.
These children can be placed in an environment not conducive to accepting and celebrating their cultural identity and heritage.
Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers are professionally trained to advocate for children like them. They become familiar with one child or sibling group and speak to everyone involved in the children's lives, including family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers and others.
"The children that our volunteers advocate for face tough, and sometimes traumatic, situations. The situations can become worse when children are placed in a culturally different setting," said Tim Hornback, executive director of Golden Crescent CASA. "The children's environment can change several times, but having a constant volunteer with whom they can identify and trust can make those transitions easier."
When the children feel comfortable, the CASA volunteer can adequately assess their physical, emotional and educational needs. The information volunteers gather helps the judge overseeing the cases make informed decisions.
Since a CASA volunteer is assigned to just one child or sibling group until the case is closed, they have the opportunity to gather much more information about the children than overburdened Child Protective Services caseworkers facing heavy caseloads. CASA volunteers work to move children out of foster care and into loving, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
"In Texas, about 23 percent of the children in the foster care system are African-American. Only nine percent of more than 7,600 CASA volunteers in Texas are African-American,It is important to provide children with volunteers who are sensitive to cultural differences and share similar backgrounds," said Hornback. "Children embrace their heritage from the positive role models who reflect them."
Golden Crescent CASA has served 364 children this year. Unfortunately today, 100 of these children do not have CASA volunteers to speak up for them in court.
"These children deserve dependable advocates with whom they can connect," said Hornback. "We hope members of the African-American community consider becoming a CASA volunteer."
To learn more, visit becomeacasa.org or goldencrescentcasa.org. Training classes are forming, so sign up as soon as possible if interested.