Each May, National Foster Care Month, we take the time to raise awareness of the children and families involved in the foster care system and the need for more people to step up to support them.
Last year there were 47,913 children in the Texas foster care system, 699 of whom were in our service area of Orange, Hardin, Tyler, Jasper, Newton, and Sabine Counties.
“There are 699 children in foster care right here in our communities, in our neighborhoods,” said Codie Vasquez, Executive Director of CASA of the Sabine Neches Region. “They need support from their community.”
Children go into the foster care system when their family is in crisis. There is a common misconception that once these children are in foster care they’re safe and no further help for them is needed. “This could not be further from the truth”, Vasquez said. Foster care is important for protecting children temporarily. It is not, however, meant to be a permanent solution.
“We’re grateful to the many wonderful foster families who open their homes to children in our community. What some people don’t understand, however, is that too often, these children have been taken away from everything and everyone they know,” Vasquez said. “Research shows that kids do better when they can stay connected with their family and community, and kids in foster care are no exception.”
This is where CASA volunteers or Court Appointed Special Advocates, from CASA of the Sabine Neches Region come into play.
CASA volunteers are specially trained and appointed by judges to advocate for a child or sibling group while they are in the foster care system. They advocate for the child in court, school, and other settings; and get to know everyone involved in the child’s life, including their parents, foster parents, teachers, doctors, family members, and others.
CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for these children to be reunified with their parents whenever safe and possible. In fact, a core part of their role is to help create and strengthen a lifetime network of relatives, family friends, and other committed adults who can support the child and their parents during their involvement with foster care and beyond – increasing the likelihood for reunification.
When reunification is not an option, they advocate for the child to live with another relative or family friend. They can also advocate for the child to be placed in a loving adoptive home. In all cases, CASA volunteers are steadfast, consistent presences for the children they serve, making sure they are safe and have the resources and connections they need to grow and thrive.
CASA of the Sabine Neches Region in need of more community members to become CASA volunteers and support these children and their families.
“Children in foster care need a dedicated advocate,” Vasquez said. “They need someone on their side, who can help them feel safe and connected. We hope you’ll consider joining the CASA movement.”