CASA of the River Region 1st CASA program in KY to Achieve National Recognition for LGBTQ+ Inclusion
Human Rights Campaign Program expands and strengthens inclusivity in child welfare organizations
Louisville, KY (September 1, 2022) CASA of the River Region, a nonprofit dedicated to giving the most vulnerable children a voice, has been awarded national recognition as an inclusive agency from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s All Children - All Families program. The organization received the highest distinction possible, the Innovative Tier.
CASA of the River Region is the first CASA program and only the second non-profit in Kentucky to achieve such a high recognition. “This further demonstrates our commitment to inclusivity as an organization, and ensuring each child feels affirmed and supported. We want all children to feel valued and this helps us to achieve that goal,” stated William Myers, President & CEO.
HRC's All Children – All Families (ACAF), a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, promotes LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies and formally recognizes those agencies that are leading the field with innovative approaches to inclusion. CASA of the River Region will be recognized in the fourth annual Change-Makers report upon its release.
“It is absolutely essential that children are provided with a safe, loving environment and the heart-breaking reality is that many LGBTQ+ children in the foster care system are forced into isolating and uncertain circumstances,” said Ted Lewis, Human Rights Campaign’s Director of Youth & Family Programs. “Thank you to CASA of the River Region for being dedicated to making impactful change for the LGBTQ+ youth and families they serve. It is critical for child welfare organizations to demonstrate a growing commitment to intersectionality and ensuring policies and practices that do not reinforce the same systems of oppression that put youth and families at risk in the first place. By taking on these challenges, CASA of the River Region can be a model for youth-serving professionals everywhere.”
The ACAF project marks three tiers in which organizations can achieve inclusivity. The first tier is building a foundation for inclusion, such as establishing non-discrimination protections, providing learning opportunities for staff, and ensuring LGBTQ+ inclusion in all internal and external communication tools. The second tier is a solid foundation for inclusion, such as implementing the policies and assessment/adjustment of practices to youth/parents for the long-term. The highest tier is innovative inclusion where organizations push themselves outward and demonstrate leadership in policy advocacy or organizational partnerships.
CASA of the River Region achieved the Innovative Tier through hours of assessments, technical assistance, and staff training, including implementing ACAF’s “Benchmarks of LGBT Inclusion,” which tracks policy and practice changes within agencies.
The HRC has identified that LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in foster care and have often been rejected by their families. Kentucky ranks fifth in the nation for abuse and neglect and last year 9,156 children were in foster care, 93% of which were in Jefferson County. Since 2007, HRC ACAF program has focused their efforts to supporting nonprofits and other agencies who strive to achieve safe, permanent placement for LGBTQ+ youth.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people.
To learn more about CASA and how you can be part of an inclusive organization, join our virtual information sessions every 1st and 3rd Wednesday (www.casarr.org./casa101). To learn more about HRC, visit https://www.thehrcfoundation.org/.