Casa of Tarrant County has continued helping abused and neglected children this year, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
And they have an urgent request right now.
They need volunteers, specifically volunteers from the African-American community, to become court-appointed special advocates.
Here's why: Last year, 661 children in Tarrant County were removed from their homes and placed in foster care.
Of that number, about 44%, identified as African-American. Yet, only 9% of advocates identify similarly. CASA said these figures tend to be mirrored in communities across Texas.
“Black youth in foster care are some of the most disenfranchised and vulnerable populations in our community,” said Tracy Williams, a Child Advocacy Specialist for CASA of Tarrant County. “In addition to dealing with the emotional and physical trauma associated with abuse and neglect, these youth are also dealing with the psychological trauma associated with the institutionalized racism that pervades so many of our systems. They need to have advocates who understand this dynamic from personal experience, which is why we need more Black and African-American volunteers, more people of color from our community to speak up for children in foster care.”
A virtual recruiting event is set for next week on October 27 at 6 p.m. To sign up, go to speakupforachild.org/register.
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Adovcates said that while the organization has a critical need for additional African-American volunteers in general, there is also a particular need for additional male volunteers, across the board.
“More than 84% of our volunteer advocates in Tarrant County are women, but about 50% of children in foster care are identified as male,” said LaZedrick Blackshire, a CASA of Tarrant County Child Advocacy Specialist. “We seek to diversify our volunteer base in all respects, not only because we want to provide advocates that children in foster care can relate to, but because we know that organizations achieve the best results possible when there is a diversity of perspectives and experiences at the table.”
CASA of Tarrant County pairs trained, court-appointed volunteer advocates with children and teens who have been taken into custody by Child Protective Services, for the purpose of serving as the child or teen’s “voice” as they move through the family court system. In many cases, a CASA is the only consistent adult figure present during a confusing and frightening time in the life of a child who has already experienced significant trauma.
Currently, CASA of Tarrant County has more than 450 active volunteers who come from all walks of life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it difficult for CASA to recruit and retain volunteers like it used to.
To learn more about CASA of Tarrant County, visit speakupforachild.org.