May 10, 2022
National Foster Care Month – Thank you for being a part of the village
SEATTLE, Washington – May is National Foster Care Month. With more than 407,000 children in the system on any given day, the National CASA/GAL Association for Children is thankful for foster families – especially relative and kinship foster families who provide the nurturing support children and youth need in a time of crisis. I am also thankful for the nearly 100,000 CASA/GAL volunteers who support them.
When a child is brought into the foster care system, the emotional trauma of being removed and the uncertainty that follows can be as damaging as the initial abuse or neglect experienced. A child in foster care may have experienced, physical, psychological and/or emotional trauma, only to endure long periods of uncertainty in the system as they wait to go home, be adopted or simply see what happens next.
Along with the judges that appoint them to cases, I see CASA/GAL volunteers as critical members of the child’s support system of social workers, teachers and foster parents – some of whom are relative or kin. They work collaboratively to identify a safe and permanent home, getting to know the child and talk to family members and other adults in the child’s life to find out what they need to heal and thrive. No matter the circumstances in the case, relating to family, living arrangement, permanency plan or changeover in caseworker, CASA/GAL volunteers ensure that the child has a stable, caring adult on his or her side. Research shows this commitment improves the trajectory for children long-term.
Additionally, maintaining relationships with relatives and kin can help provide a sense of belonging for young people in foster care. National CASA/GAL provides training to our network of 950 state organizations and local programs about relative and kinship care and the importance of children and youth maintaining family and cultural ties to their family of origin. Investing in culturally appropriate services and supports for relative and kin caregivers may help reinforce a child’s cultural identity and traditions.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is a well-known African proverb with so much meaning. I am always in awe of both the CASA/GAL volunteers who lend their voices to provide best interest advocacy for children and the family members and kin who step in as foster caregivers for a child in need. So, as we reflect on National Foster Care Month and the impact our CASA/GAL network has made over the past 40 years nationwide, to every relative or kinship foster caregiver and to CASA or GAL volunteer that has stood by a child’s side, thank you for being a part of the village.
Tara Lisa Perry
CEO, National CASA/GAL Association for Children