CASA of Tarrant County to Host Hispanic/Bilingual Volunteer Recruiting Event Tuesday, July 20, 2021
By CASA of Tarrant County Communications
Posted on July 19, 2021, July 19, 2021

CASA of Tarrant County

CASA of Tarrant County will host a special information session (held virtually) on Tuesday, July 20 at 6 p.m. for Hispanic, Latinx and bilingual community members interested in finding out more about becoming a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and neglected children in Tarrant County (children who have been removed from their homes and placed into foster care).

During the session, prospective volunteers will learn more about the CASA volunteer experience, such as:

• The application and training process.

• Activities and time commitment involved with being a CASA.

• Generally, what to expect as a volunteer advocate.

Hispanic staff members and volunteers working current or recent cases will be on hand to answer questions and provide “real world” insights about the requirements, challenges, and rewards of being a CASA. Click here to register for the virtual session.

 In 2020, 648 children in Tarrant County were removed from their homes. Of these children, 24% were identified as Hispanic, yet only 10% of CASA of Tarrant County’s volunteer advocates identify as Hispanic.

“We’ve been working hard to improve our diversity profile, but we still have a long way to go,” said Jaime Hernandez, Child Advocacy Supervisor for CASA of Tarrant County. “This challenge is complicated by the fact that we also have an overall need for more volunteers of all backgrounds, as we currently don’t have enough advocates to go around. Each year, anywhere from 400-600 kids in care are left waiting for an advocate.”

Hernandez said that CASA’s focus on diversity recruiting is motivated by more than the need to just “check a box.”

“Time and again, we see that organizations with diversified teams achieve better results,” he explained. “During this July 20 session, we hope to connect with prospective advocates who can help the kids in our care who identify as Hispanic or Latinx feel more culturally connected, and who can help our families with limited English skills better navigate the child welfare system.”

Volunteer Katalina Hibjan offered this perspective about her experience as a CASA: “When you’re volunteering for these kids, a great deal is about finding a way to connect with them,” she said. “As such, maybe speaking to them in their mother (primary) language or cooking together some food that pertains to their culture, is not only a way to connect with them, but also effectively acknowledges where they come from, for nurturing their sense of belonging that is much needed in this context. As a Hispanic background volunteer, I’m not only being there for them when they need a voice, but I’m contributing for them to embrace their cultural identity.”

Volunteer Fernando Ospina emphasized the need for men to step up and serve children in foster care: “Our minority communities need men and fathers to be role models and examples for their own children and for children in need, such as the children served by CASA. Sign up for an information session and find out how you can help.”

How CASA Works

 CASA volunteers complete 30 hours of training before being sworn in during a court ceremony. They are then assigned to new child welfare cases as designated by the family court, where their role is to advocate for the best interest of the child(ren) as the case moves through the court system, working in partnership with a CASA staff member. CASAs are also charged with making a recommendation to the court regarding the child’s permanent placement—reunification with the family, placement with relatives, long-term foster care placement, adoption, etc.

Examples of advocate activities include visiting children in foster care settings, talking with family members and other care providers (such as teachers), coordinating with court appointed attorneys and case workers, and writing court reports.

Volunteer Requirements

 Prospective CASA volunteers must be at least 21 years old, complete an initial interview, and pass a background check before being approved for advocate training. No special skills or education credentials are required to become a CASA; all that’s needed is a willingness to give your time and a heart to help our community’s most vulnerable children.

 Upcoming Volunteer Information Sessions

 A special session for prospective Hispanic/bilingual volunteers will be held July 20 at 6 p.m. Click here for a list of additional information sessions in July and August.

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