March 18, 2021
A message from our CEO; Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
SEATTLE, Washington –The most recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), shows that nearly 4,000 children in the United States who came into foster care entered, in part, because of the child’s disability.
However, there may be more children with developmental disabilities that may go undiagnosed, placing them at risk for abuse or neglect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be victims of abuse or neglect as children without disabilities. This can include physical and emotional abuse or the neglect of daily needs, such as medical care or equipment.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and for the children with developmental disabilities entering or at risk of entering foster care, having a caring, consistent adult advocate for their best interests is essential. Court appointed special advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers play a critical role in navigating the medical and educational resources to identify specialized supports for children. They work with the many professionals involved in the child’s life—including pediatricians, medical specialists, therapists, special education teachers, school counselors, social workers and others—to get a complete picture of the child’s needs. This important connection makes it possible for CASA/GAL volunteers to advocate for the best interests of the child, which can lead to better outcomes.
CASA/GAL volunteers can make a life-changing difference for children and youth. Thank you for supporting us and for helping us advance our mission so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.
Tara Lisa Perry
CEO, National CASA/GAL Association for Children