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Black History Month at CASA

February is Black History Month and a special time to celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans in our country.  It is a time to reflect upon our progress, but to also consider how far we still have to go; African-American child abuse victims are a reminder of this.  At the moment, African-American children in state custody are in need of positive adults in their lives.  According to the Department of Family and Protective Services, we see a huge discrepancy in the number of African – American child abuse victims in state protective custody.  While only 12% of children in Bexar County are African-American, 16% of confirmed abuse/neglect victims are African-American, and 19% of the children in state custody are African-American.  Clearly, African-American children are disproportionally represented in our system.  Additionally, African-American children also remain in state custody awaiting a permanent safe home much longer than any other ethnicity. 

Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA) advocates on behalf of these children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. The courts appoint a CASA volunteer to a child’s case to advocate for the best interests of the child and ensure that children no longer fall through the cracks of an overburdened system. This person serves as the “eyes and ears” of the judge and provides recommendations based on the firsthand insight and information gained through spending quality time with the child.  These volunteers are often the only familiar face for children who are in the system.  

Colin Powell, when discussing the importance of volunteering, stated, “It's not just a one-time thing. You can't just have…a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. We've got to get deeply involved in working with our kids on a continuing basis and not just one day a year.  We need more African-American men, for example, to step forward and serve as mentors to young kids who don't have a responsible, caring adult male in their lives. If I could snap my finger and do one thing, I would make sure that every young American boy or girl, but especially African-American [children], have a responsible, caring adult in their lives.” We do not have enough African-American volunteers who can be a voice for these children. Only 12% of our volunteers are African-American.  African-American children in state custody need an advocate who can relate to their background and help them to stay connected to their culture and history.  All children can and should benefit from having an African-American volunteer.  

As a CASA Advocate, you can have a major impact on the life of child abuse victims in state custody.  A child who has a volunteer on his/her case finds a safe, permanent home 8 months faster than a child who does not have a CASA volunteer. Children with a CASA volunteer are also 50% less likely to re-enter foster care, breaking the terrible cycle of violence.  February is a great month to reflect upon the African-American legacy and partnering with CASA is a great way to help children continue this legacy.

Please consider getting involved with CASA; you can volunteer, donate, or even help us spread the word by inviting us to come speak at your organization. 

Black History Month at CASA