CASA volunteers have a unique opportunity to be partners in these efforts, already coming alongside children as advocates and seeing firsthand the consequences of inaction to America’s children. Picture by CASA Cuyahoga County.
To quote Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, educator and civil rights activist, “There will never be another moment like this in our lifetime.” The nationwide events of recent weeks, including the tragic and violent death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, and the resulting widespread protests and unrest in dozens of U.S. cities concerning police brutality and institutional racism, have struck at the very core of our communities, and indicate that our collective efforts to advance the cause of social justice and equity in our society continue to fall short. The National CASA/GAL Association, which has endeavored for decades to achieve justice for some of American’s most marginalized children, had this to say in response:
“The National CASA/GAL Association stands in solidarity against any kind of injustice, violence or brutality that inflicts undue harm on or disadvantages another human being. Racism is reprehensible and has no place in our society. We believe in the freedom of expression through peaceful, lawful demonstration and that every voice has the right to be heard.
“The inhumane and senseless deaths of Mr. Floyd and the many others who have gone before him have rocked this nation and serves as reminders that there is still so much work to do in our country to address the evils of racism and indifference that it can breed. It’s also a stark reminder that inequality, inequity and disproportionality exist across all facets of our society, including our work with children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
“As an organization, we believe it’s important that we align with our mission, vision and values, inclusively understand and promote the well-being of our network and build cultural competence among staff and volunteers. By doing this, we are working to ensure equitable outcomes for all children, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
“These sobering times serve as a reminder that it’s going to take all of us working together to make life better for ourselves, each other and the children and families we serve.”
The core mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) is to amplify the voices of youth who suffer disproportionately from American society’s ills, namely child abuse and neglect, along with all of the associated social and economic conditions that exacerbate them — poverty, mass incarceration, addiction, violence, discrimination and more — which cause many children to experience trauma and grow up in an environment simply trying to survive systemic marginalization rather than thrive.
Now more than ever, serving as a CASA volunteer provides a concrete way to meet this moment. Every one of us can take action today and consider standing up for a child who needs us or by joining any number of new and reinvigorated efforts across the country to create a more just society. We invite you to consider these activities, and how you can further partner with CFACC to be part of the solution in this pivotal moment. With your continued concern, commitment and support, I am confident that CFACC will more effectively achieve our vision: Every child is seen, heard and engaged, leading to permanency and hope.