On Nov. 13, Texas CASA hosted a facilitated meeting with black pastors as they shared their stories about their ministries and how they are making a difference in their communities.
This meeting was one of a series of facilitated listening sessions in our Clergy, CASA and Community initiative – a developing partnership with the diverse faith-based community of Texas to learn how we can work together to help children in the foster care system.
In addition to talking about how churches can support the CASA mission, the meeting also led to a deeper, much-needed conversation about the historic barriers to churches’ involvement in caring for these children – issues like disproportionality and how the black community is overrepresented in the foster care system, explained Texas CASA Recruitment and Retention Officer Dennise Jackson.
“We brought these pastors together to listen as they talked about the historical distrust of systems and how these systems have impacted their – my – community,” Jackson said.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protection Services (DFPS) 2018 Disproportionality Analysis report, African American children are substantially more likely to be involved in the child welfare system than white children. They are 1.7 times more likely to be reported for signs of abuse or neglect, 1.9 times more likely to be investigated, and 1.9 times more likely to be removed from their homes.
So, while the end goal of Clergy, CASA and Community is to help CASA better recruit from communities of faith, another major goal is to listen and learn from diverse voices and experiences so that CASA can work for equity and better serve all children in the foster care system.
“Ultimately, we want CASA programs to be successful in their recruitment efforts in the faith community, but today we learned much more,” said Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO. “We learned that we have work to do to bridge relationships and build trust within these communities.”
As we continue to move forward with our Clergy, CASA and Community initiative, Texas CASA will be forming an advisory team comprised of faith-based leaders, key members of the faith community and CASA program staff to work together to create and strengthen strategies to effectively partner with churches’ ministry to serve the diverse children in the foster care system.
A big thank you goes out to the CASA programs who have committed and have consistently attended these meetings: Dallas CASA; CASA of the Coastal Bend; CASA of Ellis County; and CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties.
As Texas CASA continues our listening meetings, we would like to hear from you! If you have established a partnership with a church, clergy or community of faith, please let us know. We would like to include you and your church partner for future meetings. Please email Keri McDonald, consultant, at [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]. Keri is a former Texas CASA staff member who now provides consultation services for this initiative.