Each year in June, we take time to celebrate and recognize the people and efforts around the country that help families stay together. It is a time here at Hall-Dawson CASA when we recognize families who have overcome obstacles to providing a safe and loving home for their children and are able to reunify after their child was placed in the child welfare system. We celebrate all the work that goes into a family being able to be together again, and all those who play a part in this success.
If I’m being honest about myself and this subject, I must tell you that in the not-so-distant past, I struggled with this idea – reunification. Before I came to CASA, I thought, “Why would you ever send children back to a home where they were abused or neglected?” It seemed to me that those parents weren’t deserving of getting their children back; that the kids deserved better; that those homes and families were broken and were beyond repair.
What I’ve learned, though, is that children do best when they can safely remain with their parents or with other family members. National CASA/GAL’s second guiding principle for its member network of 950 state organizations and local programs focuses on and recognizes the importance of family preservation and/or reunification. The 2020 National CASA/GAL Standards for Local Programs states:
- It is in a child’s best interest to remain with their family of origin when safely possible;
- The program acknowledges that children experience trauma when separated from their family of origin; and
- If a child is removed from their family of origin, it is in the child’s best interests to be reunified with their family of origin as soon as safely possible.
Hall-Dawson CASA volunteers commit to strengthening families in their ability to care for and protect their children. Our Advocates work hard to identify family strengths to reunite separated families. Often assigned to the most difficult and complex cases, our volunteers work with experts to identify and recommend services aimed at keeping families together or reuniting them when the time is right. We are so grateful that in 2021, 53% of the children who achieved permanency where we had a CASA appointed reunified with their families or were able to remain with their parents while receiving services. – families strengthened and restored!
As our Executive Director talked with me about this early on, she said she once had a mentor who told her, “Children don’t want better families; they want their families better.” Celebrate with us the families in our community who have done the hard work, and are able to reunite as a family!