As we continue to move through Black History Month, it’s worthwhile to take a closer look at the racial disparities present within systems that protect and care for our kids.
Children of color are overrepresented in the child welfare system and are more likely to experience negative outcomes than white children, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
A 2021 NCSL article reports that children of color have significantly lower chances of being reunited with their original families or finding a permanent placement while being more likely to experience multiple placements, group care and “poor social, behavioral and educational outcomes.”
Disparities in the child welfare system leave Black children and children of color at a disadvantage, targeting one of the most honored institutions in America: the family.
CASA of the River Region helps to minimize disparities by recruiting and training everyday volunteers to be mentors and advocates to children and their families. CASA volunteers’ make a commitment to making sure every child, regardless of racial or ethnic background, receives unbiased, adequate support and removes barriers to services.
Family Court Judge Derwin Webb emphasized the importance of having diverse mentors to serve the diverse needs and experiences of kids in our community who are appointed Special Advocates.
“We need more volunteers of color to help [our CASA kids] become the best representations of themselves,” he explained. “More importantly, they need to see someone who looks like them that cares.”
Last year, only 1 in 20 volunteers were Black/African-American and less than 3% were other people of color. When compared with children served, approximately 1 in 5 were Black/African American, 10% were classified as Two or More Races, and less than 1% were of Asian descent.
The newly approved 3-Year Strategic plan focuses on expanding the diversity of CASA’s volunteer base. CASA’s first step is the establishment of a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Committee. This committee will address how to reduce the racial gap in our volunteer base and provide opportunities to be more inclusive.
Meeting monthly, this new committee will play a key role in developing strategies for diversification and building community relationships. The inaugural DE&I committee needs at least five to ten dedicated members to start. The committee is open to anyone in the community who is interested in supporting the most vulnerable children in the community and who has a passion for building relationships.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion can easily become shallow buzzwords used to bandage deep inequities with cheap fixes. CASA’s DE&I Committee will be committed to ensuring action and movement.
If you would like to take part in its work or for more information, please reach out to CASA's Director of Development Amabelle Camba at firstname.lastname@example.org.