Hispanic/Latino children make up over one-third of the state’s foster care population, although they comprise only 22% of Texas’ overall child population. These children are suddenly taken from their homes because of maltreatment, and, in many instances, thrust into a new foster home environment that is completely dissimilar to the community they are accustomed to. In rare cases, the child might not even speak the language of the new people surrounding him or her. These children need a connection with their community—a voice…your voice as their voice. Can you imagine being in a household with strangers who may not speak your language or understand your culture?
To a child, the sense of family provides a sort of security. To be taken from that home, even when it is not safe for the child or the child is in immediate danger, is nonetheless a frightening and traumatizing experience for the child.
When a child is removed from home and placed in the custody of Child Protective Services, there may be other family members able to take the child. But many times, the child is placed into a foster home with people who are strangers to him/her.
Many subtle changes impact children removed from their home. Consider the following scenario:
A young, first-generation, Salvadoran-American mother in the U.S. for only a few years had five children removed from her care and placed in two different foster homes—neither bilingual Spanish/English speaking. These children were uprooted from their traditions and language. The children were devoid of their family traditions, background and the only home and culture they had ever known. Who will speak for them? Will you? You speak a language that is likely familiar to them, and this is so very important. You can also help the family to communicate, and prevent the child from becoming lost in an overburdened system.
Every child needs and deserves a loving family—a safe and happy home. A CASA Advocate has the opportunity to provide a voice in court for the best interests of the child, and help find the child a safe, nurturing and permanent home. Most CASA volunteers spend approximately 10 hours per month in their role. It is a unique and sometimes challenging volunteer experience, but speaking for a child who cannot speak for himself and making a difference in that child’s future can be the very best reward.
Our goal at CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is to provide a voice—an Advocate—for every child. We are currently able to meet that goal, per se, however, but we are lacking in bilingual volunteers to bridge the cultural and/or language gap with the Hispanic or Latino children. When you become an Advocate, you are giving a child a voice, a stable presence in his/her life, and a caring person devoted to his/her best interests during a very difficult and confusing time.
You can help a child. If you are bilingual (Spanish/English), please join us and help children in need of love, constancy and a safe and permanent home, but also longing for a sense of familiarity in their community, their language and/or their culture. Become a CASA Advocate and be that stable and caring influence—perhaps the only one the child has—in a young person’s life.