For many children, Father’s Day means giving gifts, enjoying traditions, and making memories with their fathers, grandfathers, and father figures. But for children in the foster care system, the day can be a painful reminder of their past.
Unfortunately, many children in foster care do not have a reliable father figure or positive male role model in their lives. Once removed from their homes due to evidence of abuse or neglect, they are sometimes placed in state care far away from their loved ones and community, creating a constant cycle of uncertainty.
However, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers can help provide much-needed stability for these children. CASA volunteers are everyday people who are specially trained and appointed by judges to advocate for children in the foster care system.
“In addition to advocating for children’s unique needs, CASA strives to provide a consistent adult presence for children while they are navigating the child welfare system,” said Kimberly Weiser, executive director of CASA of Walker, San Jacinto & Trinity Counties. “Our volunteers’ main goal is to help get the children they serve out of the temporary foster care system and into a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible – so that they never have to spend another Father’s Day without a caring parental figure.”
Children who have CASA volunteers typically spend less time in foster care, receive more services needed to heal, and perform better academically. CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for reunification with the child’s family. When there is not an available relative to care for the child, CASA volunteers work diligently to help place them with a loving adoptive family.
“We need more involved members of the community, especially men, to step up and make a difference by becoming that present and engaged adult in a child’s life,” said Weiser. “We believe all of our volunteers are equipped to work with any child, but we also know that it is vital for a young person to see someone who looks like them and can speak with them directly about their experiences.”
Currently there are 108 children in the local child protection system, but only 42 CASA volunteers available to serve those children. Of those volunteers, only 4 are men. Every child deserves a CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interests, just as every child should have a reason to celebrate Father’s Day.
“Please consider becoming a CASA volunteer so that more children in foster care can celebrate Father’s Day and start making memories with loving adults and families,” said Weiser. CASA’s next training course will begin July 22nd. All training is free and is open to anyone who is at least 21 years of age.
For more information, visit casaofwalkercounty.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.