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Awareness months highlight achievements and needs in child welfare

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March 29, 2024

Awareness months highlight achievements and needs in child welfare

In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. National CASA/GAL is shaped by many trailblazing women including Carmen Ray-Bettineski, founder of the King County Dependency CASA Program – our network’s inaugural program – and the founding executive director of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association. Today, there are thousands of women staff, volunteers and supporters who advance our mission, and we are forever grateful for their commitment and fortitude.

March is also Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Children and youth with special healthcare needs are more likely to have longer foster care stays and multiple placements. CASA/GAL volunteers can help find resources that will assist children and youth achieve a forever home. When a child with developmental disabilities is assigned a CASA or GAL volunteer, they have an advocate who will work with their support team to identify wraparound services critical to their well-being and speak up for their needs in the court and community.

April brings awareness about National Child Abuse Prevention Month. On a positive note, the total number of children in foster care dropped to 368,530 on any given day in 2022, according to the recently released Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data. This is the fourth consecutive year that the number of children in care decreased. The number of children entering foster care also decreased for the sixth year in a row. These numbers are a welcome reminder that child abuse and neglect are preventable, and when families receive necessary support and services to face difficult circumstances, their children can often remain with them at home.

One of the National CASA/GAL network’s guiding principles is that it is in a child’s best interest to remain with their family of origin when safely possible. With the right tools and resources, children and families can thrive. By supporting families, advocating for family-friendly policies, and fostering safe communities, we contribute to a world where children and youth can grow, learn, and dream freely. Prevention is not just a month-long effort—it’s a commitment we make every day. Together, we can create a bright future for all our children.