February 24, 2023
National Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grants aim to improve support to children impacted by the child welfare system – spotlight on CASA for Children of DC
The National CASA/GAL Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Grants, made possible with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), support state organizations and local programs with volunteer recruitment among target populations reflective of the communities and children served. Funding supports DEI initiatives that create a culture of inclusiveness and equitable practices and building of a more culturally competent workforce, including DEI training opportunities. In the Fall of 2022, National CASA/GAL awarded over $1 million in DEI grant funding to 36 state organizations and local programs.
CASA for Children of DC is among the grantees, receiving a $20,000 award which will enable the program to focus on expanding service to qualifying children in Washington, DC. CASA for Children of DC has been a leading voice for DC’s youth in foster care for more than 20 years, training over 2,200 volunteers to serve more than 2,000 youth impacted by abuse and neglect. 100% of the youth served are individuals of color.
With the awarded DEI grant funds, CASA DC will focus on training staff members, training volunteers, and targeted recruitment in order to best serve their demographic. To break down barriers, CASA DC is revitalizing its DEI curriculum to train staff members and volunteers about implicit bias, supporting diversity activities, and developing a culture of respect. Staff training will also focus on enhancing volunteer training and coaching.
With the support of prior funding from the National CASA/GAL Association, CASA DC increased its recruitment and training of volunteers of color by 32% in 2021. While these efforts towards diversifying volunteers have been successful, they will be continued and expanded to better meet the needs of youth and to serve them with volunteers who share their lived experiences. Culturally competent staff and volunteers and people with lived experiences from the community are central to both proper advocacy for vulnerable youth in DC, and for their opportunity to thrive.
“We are so grateful to have this opportunity to strengthen CASA DC’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Enhanced training will ensure that our staff and volunteers have a deeper understanding of the historic and present inequities faced by youth and families in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, empowering change through advocacy and mentorship” said Arika Adams, Executive Director of CASA for Children of DC. “Strengthened curriculums will also provide volunteers and staff with tools to confront their own implicit biases, enabling more meaningful and responsive relationships with youth and families.”