November is National Adoption Month, and CASA in the Heart of Texas is working to inform the public of the urgent need for members of the community to support children in the foster care system.
There were 46 children awaiting adoption in the three-county service area of CASA in the Heart of Texas - Brown, Comanche, and Mills - on August 31, 2018. (Numbers have not yet been published for the most recent fiscal year ended August 31, 2019.) CASA in the Heart of Texas is spreading awareness this month and challenging more members of the community to step up and be a part of the solution by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.
“There are so many children in foster care right here in our area who need and deserve a safe, stable place to call home,” said Michelle Wells, Executive Director of CASA in the Heart of Texas. “Our hope is to inform our community that there are a variety of ways that you can support children during National Adoption Month. If fostering or adopting is too much of a commitment, we want people to know that they can still help children in care by becoming a CASA volunteer.”
When children come into the foster care system, they are taken away from the only life they have ever known. Many of these children will spend months or even years in multiple foster homes. Without the guidance, connection and direction that family provides, they face the risk of negative outcomes like homelessness, substance use, and incarceration.
“Every child deserves a safe, loving home where they can be a kid,” said Wells. “Our goal is to have every child partnered with a CASA volunteer and ultimately reunited with their family, or if that is not an option, adopted into a loving home where they can thrive.”
CASA volunteers are everyday citizens from the community who are screened, trained, and appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court. Volunteers are designated to serve one child or sibling group and evaluate their well-being by getting to know them and speaking with any and all relevant contacts in their lives, including foster parents, biological family, teachers, therapists and more.
CASA volunteers work hard to develop a trusting relationship with these children, while collecting important information about their unique physical, emotional, and educational needs. They communicate their recommendations to the court in an effort to ensure that children are set up for success both during and after their time in care.
CASA in the Heart of Texas has served 97 children so far this year, less than half of the number of children in care in our area,” stated Wells. “There are still too many children without a CASA volunteer to advocate for their needs.”
November also marks the start of the holiday season, making it all the more pertinent to raise awareness of the importance of a happy childhood with a caring family. Many children in the foster care system are not as fortunate to experience the significant family moments and traditions associated with a normal, healthy childhood, Wells said.
“In foster care, children often aren’t able to experience the types of precious memories and childhood moments that can make the holiday season so warm and special for many of us,” said Wells. “CASA in the Heart of Texas urgently needs more advocates who can make a difference in the lives of these children.”
As we observe National Adoption Month and enter the holiday season, consider becoming a CASA volunteer to ensure that children in foster care get the support they need and deserve by giving them a chance at a brighter future.
CASA in the Heart of Texas will soon be finishing the last training session for this year and is gearing up for the next Pre-Service Training Class to begin the week of January 6, 2020. “Before someone can be accepted into the training class, they must first submit an application through our website, pass background checks, and complete the interview process,” stated Joanne McCraw, Recruiter/Trainer for CASA in the Heart of Texas. “Applications for the January training class should be submitted no later than December 6, 2019. If someone is interested but needs more information, please call the CASA office at 325-643-2557. We will be happy to meet with you individually to provide more information and answer any questions.”
For more information or to fill out an application, visit www.CASAbrownwood.org.