Gaining Valuable Insight at the 2022 National CASA/GAL Conference
At CASA of Northwest Arkansas, we are constantly learning; whether it be one of the many volunteer and staff training opportunities throughout the year, understanding new changes and developments in our community, or receiving information or guidance from our organization’s national entity, National CASA/GAL.
This month, we wanted to share our dedication to educating ourselves, ensuring our staff and volunteers are highly trained and well-equipped to handle many of the difficult dynamics associated with foster care and volunteer advocacy. In June, a few members of our staff had the opportunity to fly to Seattle, WA, to attend the 2022 National CASA/GAL Conference. We asked them to share with us some of the things they learned.
This is what they said:
“I sat in a session titled Supporting healthy racial and ethnic development for the youth of color in the child welfare system. Dr. JaeRan Kim, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Criminal Justice, University of Washington Tacoma. ‘Racial and ethnic identity development is not an “add on” but a critical dimension of a young person’s sense of self and needs to be treated as part of the child’s overall needs.’ This resonated with me because often these needs are not prioritized in the child welfare system. I think as a CASA we can advocate more to make sure children’s needs are being met.” – Kayla
“I learned about a new tool/app that is looking for pilot sights called Connect our Kids, it will aid in finding family members and making those connections. Also connecting with resources in the family’s area. This could potentially be a new tool for our program and advocates to utilize to aid with family preservation. ” – Amanda Q.
“What really touched me the most was listening to those speakers with lived experiences. Hearing their stories, seeing how far they have come, to know that their CASA was a huge part of their lives, that is what lights my fire, and man, was my fire lit. Our kids are the reason I do what I do, day in and day out, and while I am only a piece of their stories, I want to help in every way that I can. Those young people have pushed so incredibly hard to achieve their goals and are truly making a difference.” – Emily
“One thing the conference showed me was just how fortunate I am to be a part of the Northwest Arkansas CASA program/family. My jaw dropped when I heard the issues that programs across the country have to deal with: not getting appointed to cases until after Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), navigating relationships with judges from opposing political parties -who have their own notions about CASA-, some programs only being appointed to the worst cases, lack of resources, etc. One program even informed us the earliest their kiddo could get an emergency mental health appointment is three months out.” – Evan
“…what really stuck with me were the classes on supporting the personal cultural communities of our kids and families. After hearing so many motivating personal stories from the panelists, I am invigorated to bring that energy to my work to better support our local community.” – Rachel
Insightful, Inspiring, and Inquisitive Quotes from the Conference:
“If your dreams don’t scare you, you aren’t dreaming big enough.”
“We need to hear from our youth and families. Those who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution.”
“They don’t need me to feel bad for them, they need me to help them.”
“Bring the humanity to the report, and the freshest perspective.”
“Need to focus on having not just a trauma informed court, but trauma responsive court.”
“Poverty is not neglect, be sure to keep in mind why the initial removal occurred and do not create higher expectations that can’t be achieved.”