Children who endure the trauma of abuse and neglect face uncertainty when they are placed under the Court’s protection: different foster homes, multiple social workers, and new schools are just some of these unknowns. When a child’s life is disrupted, CASA volunteers are there to provide a source of stability, comfort, and familiarity.
CASA volunteers play a unique role when advocating for an abused or neglected child. An important part of that role is acknowledging and understanding the child’s experience from their unique perspective. A volunteer’s shared racial and cultural background are essential factors to build trust and better advocate for the youth they serve. At Fairfax CASA we strongly believe representation matters. We believe that every child’s culture, belief system and race should be embraced, celebrated and nurtured, which is why having a CASA volunteer who a child can identify with is crucial. Studies show that strong cultural identity contributes to mental health resilience, higher levels of social well-being, and improved coping skills, among other benefits. Understanding each child’s unique qualities and showing respect for traditions and values allows a child to maintain a strong sense of their racial-ethnic identity, which ultimately leads to resiliency.
Right now, over 30% of the children we serve are Black (a number that is largely disproportionate to the general population), yet less than 5% of our volunteers are Black. We recognize the importance of providing them with positive role models who share their backgrounds and cultures. We are striving to create a diverse pool of volunteers that better reflects the demographics of the children in the Fairfax child welfare system.
And this is where you come in: We need you. We need your help as we recruit passionate and diverse volunteers who have the desire to change a child’s story for the better. We encourage you to share this article with your friends, family, and neighbors and take the first step to become a CASA volunteer, by attending a virtual information session to learn more about the CASA role. We are holding a special session on August 3, 2021, from 7:00 pm-8:30 pm focused on addressing the need for Black advocates for the children we serve. To reserve your spot in this special session and receive the virtual session link, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can help ensure that every abused and neglected child in our community has an advocate to help them navigate the unknowns while supporting and strengthening their cultural, racial, and ethnic identity.