Seattle, Wash., June 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On June 6, 2022, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children collaborated with Unbelievably Resilient to host the second annual CASA/GAL Volunteer’s Day to honor and thank CASA/GAL volunteers nationwide, who work hard to ensure children and youth in the child welfare system have their voices heard every day. Unbelievably Resilient is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the negative narrative surrounding foster care.
To acknowledge the dedication and extraordinary service of CASA/GAL volunteers, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Todd Young (IN), and U.S. Representative Katie Porter (CA) recognized CASA/GAL Volunteer’s Day as sponsors of companion House and Senate resolutions before members of Congress.
The day culminated with a hybrid in-person and virtual celebration featuring remarks from National CASA/GAL Board Chair Joseph (Joe) Bankoff, National CASA/GAL Deputy CEO Sally Erny, Unbelievably Resilient Executive Director Keri Richmond; members of Congress; CASA/GAL volunteers and youth sharing their stories; and a performance by the Chicago Children’s Choir. Additionally, Akerman Academic Excellence Scholarship recipients Idelia Robinson-Confer, Tawanna Brown and Nishimwe Emeline shared their appreciation for CASA/GAL volunteers.
The event streamed live from the National CASA/GAL 2022 Annual Conference in Seattle where over 840 members and volunteers of National CASA/GAL’s network of 950 state organizations and local programs, along with peers in child welfare, gathered for learning, exchange and celebration of National CASA/GAL’s 40th anniversary.
On any given day, there are nearly 406,000 children in foster care in the United States. Appointed by judges, CASA/GAL volunteers advocate for the best interests of children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect, many of whom are in foster care. Nationwide, more than 93,000 CASA/GAL highly-trained volunteers serve 242,000 children and youth in the child welfare system.
“I hope that through the celebration of this day, people nationwide will have the chance to better understand the critical role a CASA/GAL volunteer plays in the lives of young people,” said National CASA/GAL CEO Tara Lisa Perry. “We are proud to serve over half of the children and youth in foster care but aspire to reach every child in need of a CASA/GAL volunteer’s services. As we celebrate 40 years of impact in 2022, we hope many more people will be inspired to join the ranks of almost one million volunteer advocates who have supported children and youth as they navigate dependency court and the child welfare system over the past four decades.”
Keri Richmond, a former foster youth and executive director of Unbelievably Resilient, recalls her experience with her CASA volunteer Kathy. “I was four when I went back into foster care. Everything happened so quickly and in the blink of an eye there were so many different adults coming in and out, asking me lots of questions and shuffling me around in a sort of panicked, chaotic way,” said Richmond. “But Kathy stands out as the face I see most clearly during this time. She spoke softly and slowly, always wearing a smile. Simply being around her made the entire room feel calmer. She was gentle, kind and loving – she was my CASA volunteer.”
Richmond also thanked National CASA/GAL for collaborating with Unbelievably Resilient to make this day a reality. “When you are a youth in foster care, a CASA/GAL volunteer steps in to be a voice for you,” said Richmond. “They are the ultimate ally to us, because they help children and youth find their voices, so that when they age out of foster care, they can elevate their voices.”
Watch the CASA/GAL Volunteer’s Day celebration here.
About the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem Association for Children
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children, together with its member network of 950 state organizations and local programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home and have the opportunity to thrive. National CASA/GAL offers leadership and support to its member network and leads its continued growth. CASA/GAL volunteers and staff work every day to help change a child’s story. To learn more, visit nationalcasagal.org or follow National CASA/GAL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Unbelievably Resilient
Unbelievably Resilient is a nonprofit organization comprised solely of alumni of the foster care system, who are dedicated to changing the negative narrative surrounding foster care through authentically sharing their own stories of moving from trauma to triumph and helping young people to embrace their inner strength and resilience. For more information, visit https://www.ur-resilient.org/ or follow UR on Facebook and Instagram.
CONTACT: Kimberly Willis Green, External Communications Officer National CASA/GAL Association for Children 206-774-7245 email@example.com