By Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO
Dear CASA Community,
During Black History Month, we take time to honor and recognize the accomplishments and history of Black Americans. As advocates, we also reaffirm our commitment to creating a brighter, more equitable world for all Texas children and families.
According to CPS data, CPS is more likely to receive reports regarding Black families than Anglo families and is more likely to remove Black children from their homes. The data also tells us Black children face worse outcomes in the foster care system—the system is less likely to reunify them with their families of origin, and they are less likely to be adopted within 12 months.
We can’t solve the disproportionality and disparity issues in the foster care system overnight, but we can contribute to positive change by continuing to learn and grow, and committing to culturally responsive CASA outreach, training and recruitment. For these children, a CASA volunteer who is able to relate to their experiences, or at the very least, is comfortable discussing their experiences without bias, can make all the difference.
February is also National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Knowing that youth in foster care are at higher risk of becoming victims of intimate partner violence and human trafficking, conversations about safe and healthy relationships are critical.
Youth in foster care deserve all the same opportunities as their peers. These young people already tend to feel singled out because of the restrictions that come with being in the system, so any time we can work together to help them feel more like their peers and less like a “foster kid” can make a positive difference. With this in mind, we’re excited to announce the release of our Normalcy Matters guidebook and companion video. The guide covers everything from participating in sleepovers, summer camp and extracurricular activities, to having access to a cell phone, dating, taking driver’s education or receiving an allowance.
We are also happy to share our 2021 Impact Report: Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities, which gives an overview of Texas CASA’s services and impact over the past year.
While these continue to be unusual times for all of us, we can stay focused on the grounding power of CASA’s mission: advocating for the best interest of children. The thousands of CASA volunteers across the state continue to stand by children’s sides, advocate fiercely for their safety and well-being, and support their families. Whatever challenges this year brings, I have every faith that our CASA community will meet them head-on, with heart, compassion and strength. Thank you for your steadfast commitment to making a difference.