¡Levante Su Voz por un Niño! Become an Advocate for Hispanic Children!
The Alexandria/Arlington Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program is in need of bilingual Hispanic volunteers to advocate on behalf of Hispanic children who are caught up in the complex court system. Learn more about how you can become the voice for a child who has been abused or neglected.
¿Que es le Programa CASA?
The Alexandria/Arlington Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program is a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, a nationally recognized and respected program. The mission of the CASA Program is to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children so that they can thrive in safe, permanent homes. The CASA program trains community members to act as the voice of a child who has been abused or neglected and is caught up in the complexities of the court system.
¿Porqué se Necesitan Voluntarios Hispanos y Bilingues?
There are many misconceptions about the child welfare system in the United States. The truth is that the overall goal of child welfare system is to help keep children safe. In an ideal world, children would all be safe and healthy growing up in their own homes. The unfortunate reality is that children from all races, ethnicities and backgrounds can be abused and neglected. Often, abuse is due to a lack of understanding about appropriate parenting practices or can be caused by the stresses of poverty, language barriers and acculturation. Whatever the cause, all children deserve the right to a safe and healthy upbringing.
In some cases where abuse and neglect are severe, children are or are at risk of being placed in foster care. In many of these cases, families just need support and education to be reunited with their children. However, immigrant families face many obstacles when it comes to getting the services they need, including language barriers and a lack of understanding about what is expected of them. Seeing that there is someone who they can relate to and who speaks their language, advocating on behalf of their child can help motivate parents to do what it takes to be reunited with their children.
In other cases, reunification is just not possible. When this occurs, children involved in the court system need someone whose sole purpose is to advocate for their best interests. This is where the CASA Volunteer comes in. Hispanic children in particular need culturally knowledgeable advocates who speak their language and understand their traditions and heritage. They need people they can identify with and who will advocate vigorously for their best interests.
Approximately one-quarter of children to whom the Alexandria / Arlington CASA program is appointed are Hispanic. Each of these children needs someone who has their best interest at heart, someone who understands their background, their language and their culture and who will advocate for their best interests.
Bilingual Hispanic CASA Volunteers can offer Hispanic children and their families a level of support that non-bilingual volunteers simply cannot. Bilingual volunteers are able to speak directly with families without the need for interpretation. This can help to build rapport and increase family cooperation and compliance. Hispanic volunteers provide Hispanic children and their families a level of understanding of their cultural traditions and a value of their heritage that non-Hispanic volunteers cannot.
Of course, not all Hispanic cultures are the same, however it makes a tremendous difference to a family to work with someone who looks like them and who understands (either personally or from their family’s experience) what it means to be from somewhere else.
¿Como Puedo Aplicar Para Ser un Voluntario CASA?
To take the first step toward becoming a CASA Volunteer, please visit our volunteer page