FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patrick Seidl at Patrick@marylandcasa.org or 410-828-6761
Maryland CASA Calls for More African American Volunteers
TOWSON, Md. (February 24, 2016) – Throughout February, Maryland CASA Association has been recognizing the positive difference that African American Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers have made in the lives of children in the state’s foster care system. As Black History Month comes to an end, the organization is calling on more African Americans to get involved and change history for abused and neglected children. Click HERE to Download as a PDF
“These children have already faced tough situations, and entering the foster care system can be traumatic,” said Ed Kilcullen, Maryland CASA’s state director. “But when a child is placed in a culturally different setting, it is even more challenging. They aren’t just removed from their homes but removed from their schools, community, places of worship, etc.”
In Maryland, African American children are over-represented in the state’s foster care system. Statewide, only 30.3% percent of the child population is African American, according to Kids Count Data Center, a project of Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, but roughly 58% percent of the children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect are African American.
“While CASA’s 1,100 volunteers reflect the diversity of Maryland’s population, with 30% African American, our goal is to have a volunteer pool that more closely reflects the children who are served,” said Kilcullen. “We need more volunteers who are sensitive to cultural differences, who can help foster parents work through the issues that child is facing and who can be positive role models for children in care,” he added.
Maryland CASA and its 15 affiliated CASA programs throughout the state train volunteers to be cognizant of the disparities facing African American children, including that they languish in foster care longer and often have multiple placements per year, moving from foster home to foster home with little stability. They represent a larger number of children awaiting adoption and many will age out of the system at 21 years old without a family or support system.
CASA volunteers are specifically trained to advocate for children in foster care, get to know the child and speak to everyone involved in the child’s life, including family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers and others. The information they gather and their recommendations help the court, which oversees each case, to make informed decisions. CASA volunteers commit to a child until the case is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.
Those interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and serving the children in their own communities are urged to visit www.marylandcasa.org and fill out the volunteer inquiry form or call 410-828-6761 for more information.
About Maryland CASA Association
Maryland CASA Association is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to ensuring the rights of all victims of child abuse and neglect to grow up in safe, permanent homes. This mission is carried out in partnership with the state’s 15 Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs, which provide trained volunteer advocates to speak up for the best interests of children. In 2015, over 1,100 volunteers throughout Maryland advocated for nearly 1,600 children under the court’s protection as a result of abuse and/or neglect. Unfortunately, more than half the children in foster care do not have advocates to speak up for them in court. For more information, visit www.marylandcasa.org.