November is National Adoption Month, and Lone Star CASA is working to inform the public of the urgent need for families to support vulnerable children in the foster care system.
In 2017 in Texas, there were 7,236 children in the care of Child Protective Services waiting for adoption.
The most recent report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services shows Kaufman County had 55 children in foster care in October.
Only two of them placed in homes within the county while 16 had to be placed outside the region.
Lone Star CASA of Kaufman and Rockwall Counties is spreading awareness and challenging more members of the community to step up and be a part of the solution by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer.
“There are so many children in foster care right here in our home towns that need a permanent home,” said Lucille Bell, executive director of Lone Star CASA. “Our hope is to inform our community that there are a variety of ways that you can support children during National Adoption Month. If fostering or adopting is too much of a commitment, we want people to know that they can still help children in care by becoming a CASA volunteer.”
Children come into the foster care system through no fault of their own due to abuse and/or neglect, leaving behind the only life they have ever known. For many children, the harsh reality is that they will wait years for a safe, permanent home, and will continue bouncing between multiple foster homes until they are finally reunited with their biological family or adopted.
Without the proper guidance and direction that a family provides, many youth often face negative outcomes like homelessness, drug addiction and incarceration.
“Every child deserves a safe, loving home where they can be a kid,” said Bell. “Our goal is to have every child partnered with a CASA volunteer and ultimately reunited with their family, or if that is not an option, adopted into a loving home where they can thrive.”
CASA volunteers are everyday citizens from the community who are screened and trained, then appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court. Volunteers are designated to serve one child or sibling group to evaluate their well-being by getting to know them and speaking with any and all relevant contacts in their lives.
CASA volunteers work hard to develop a trusting relationship with these children, while collecting important information about their unique physical, emotional and educational needs. They communicate their recommendations to the court in an effort to ensure children are able to thrive during their time in care.
“In addition to the abuse or neglect they’ve endured, these children lack the stability in life needed to grow and often miss out on key parts of childhood while in foster care,” said Bell. “Our dedicated volunteers at Lone Star CASA work hard to build a positive relationship with these children and make certain that they provide a voice for them and protect their best interests.”
November also marks the start of the holiday season, making it all the more pertinent to raise awareness of the importance of experiencing a healthy childhood with a caring family. Many children in the foster care system are not as fortunate to experience the significant family moments and traditions associated with a normal, healthy childhood, Bell said.
“Without a permanent family, children often aren’t able to experience the types of precious memories and childhood moments that can make the holiday season so warm and special for many of us,” said Bell. Lone Star CASA needs more advocates who can make a difference in the lives of these children.”
For more information, visit www.lonestarcasa.org.