Payton. Faith. Julian. These are the first names of three of the nearly 27,000 children who are currently in foster care in Texas.
Children like Payton, Faith and Julian come into foster care when their families are in crisis, and are sometimes placed in foster homes far away from everyone and everything they know and love: their family, their school, community and even cultural values. These children, and the more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide, need your help.
This Sunday, Nov. 7, is Stand Sunday, a day when communities of faith across the world come together to pray for all children in foster care. Whether you practice prayer or not, thinking of and starting conversations around these children is something specific and meaningful that anyone can do to help raise awareness about foster care in their communities.
For the last couple of years, Texas CASA has partnered with DFPS for Stand Sunday to receive the first names of every single child in foster care in the state. By having these names, faith communities can more personally connect to kids like Payton, Faith and Julian through prayer. The sheer number of names also helps remind all of us of the need for more CASA volunteers and foster families to help ensure the safety and well-being each of these children.
For many people of faith, Stand Sunday could be the first close encounter they have with the foster care system and all the ways they can get involved — also what hopefully sparks a desire to become a CASA volunteer.
Texas CASA’s partnership for Stand Sunday is part of a statewide initiative for CASA and faith-based organizations: Clergy, CASA and Community (CCC). The goal of CCC is to involve and partner with faith communities to serve the ministry of foster care. Back in January, CASA started piloting this initiative with three CASA programs: Dallas CASA, CASA of Denton County and East Texas CASA. Beyond allowing programs to partner and recruit volunteers, faith communities allow CASA to reach into communities and are aids in building more support systems for children, their parents, families, foster families and adoptive families.
One of the key elements of CCC is the idea of a faith outreach team of volunteers. These are CASA volunteers with a connection to communities of faith that help CASA solidify their partnership. CASA encourages the programs part of CCC to not only think about recruiting individual volunteers, but to come alongside faith communities to ask how they can partner up and, together, further develop the ministry – which might include CASA becoming a part of it. These partnerships can look many ways. They might be a prayer group that meets to pray for children and youth in foster care, a back-to-school event or a Stand Sunday at their local church.
Importantly, one of the biggest goals for this initiative is to reach out to non-Christian groups and build relationships with other faiths, as well as faith communities of color, to help better serve the vastly diverse children and families involved with the system. At CASA, we actively seek more volunteers who will reflect the demographics of the populations they serve. It’s essential for children to have a volunteer who understands them completely — not just emotionally, but culturally. We hope to be able to use CCC and Stand Sunday as a catalyst towards making this happen.
If you have any questions about CCC or Stand Sunday or would like to get involved, don’t hesitate to reach out to Texas CASA Faith-Based Liaison Keri McDonald at email@example.com. All are welcome!