Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Fairfax CASA
At Fairfax CASA, our priority is to provide culturally competent advocacy for the children we serve with the goal of permanence in a safe and stable home. We recognize that institutional discrimination and bias impact children and families involved with the child welfare system. We believe that families are the experts in their own lives and that understanding each child’s unique qualities and showing respect for a family’s traditions and values will strengthen the work we do. We believe that preserving a family, when safe, is in a child’s best interest.
We know that children of color are overrepresented in foster care and less likely to encounter people who share their racial and cultural experiences in the caseworkers, service providers, lawyers, judges, and CASAs during their involvement with the system. We know that undocumented children fear being separated from their families while confronting barriers to education, health care, employment, and housing. We know that LGBTQ foster youth face increased discrimination, harassment, and hostility in the foster care system, an increase in placement disruptions and experience a higher-than-average rate of suicidality.
We pledge to build a diverse community of volunteers, staff, board members, allies, and supporters who are invested in every child’s welfare. We pledge to partner with individuals, organizations, and businesses that reflect diverse identities and align with our priorities of equity and inclusion. We pledge to confront our own biases, to continue learning how to combat systems of discrimination and oppression, and to integrate values of equity and inclusion into our work. We pledge to create opportunities for those in our community to learn, change, and be accountable. Our mission is urgent, and we will always strive to improve.
How we define diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how we intend to prioritize these values in our work:
We define and recognize diversity as the range of all human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, and gender. We also recognize a broader definition to include age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, marital status, education, language, and physical appearance. We acknowledge that individuals claim multiple of these identities.
CASA volunteers who share and understand a child’s racial and cultural background will be equipped to support them in maintaining a strong sense of identity and in building resiliency. We commit to recruiting a diverse pool of staff and volunteers who better reflects the demographics of the children involved with the Fairfax County child welfare system.
We define equity as fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while also striving to identify and eliminate both intentional and unintentional barriers that have prevented full participation by some groups.
We commit to understanding the root causes of outcome disparities in our society and then acting to ensure that children have equal access to all opportunities that can provide them brighter futures. We seek to increase justice and fairness within our organization and to bring these values to the institutions and systems to which we have access.
We define inclusion as a sense of belonging that makes a person feel respected and valued for who he or she is, as an individual or member of a group. The goal of inclusion is not only to bring those who are underrepresented to our table but to empower them to share their perspectives. We will listen as their voices inform our advocacy work to benefit the children we serve.
We commit to creating welcoming environments where any individual or group feels respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. We understand the importance of analyzing our unconscious, or implicit biases, thereby turning exclusivity into inclusivity to better serve children and their families.