Connections to family give children and youth a sense of belonging and love. June is nationally recognized as Reunification Month— a critical opportunity to share the importance of children and youth in foster care reunifying with their family. The National CASA/GAL model for best-interest advocacy is driven by the guiding principle that children grow and develop best when they can safely be with their family. Our Standards for Local Programs—the expectations and requirements for our CASA/GAL member programs nationwide—detail the significance of family preservation and reunification because we know that it is in the child’s best interest to remain with their family or to be reunified with their family of origin as soon as safely possible.
According to the Children’s Bureau with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), most of the 420,000 children placed in foster care will reunify with their family, and this is the most common and most desired goal for children in foster care.
CASA/GAL volunteers work with experts and service providers to identify and recommend services aimed at keeping families intact or returning children safely to family members. Data show that when a CASA/GAL volunteer is assigned, a higher number of services are ordered not only for the child, but for families as well. In a recent Judges Perspective Study, judges report that the impact of CASA CASA/GAL volunteers is most pronounced in “promoting long-term wellbeing” (92.2%), followed by “appropriate services to child and family” (83%).
Our nationwide network of CASA/GAL programs and volunteers also work to identify barriers to families’ engagement in services and find ways to reduce or eliminate them. They create supportive environments for families from all walks of life to have positive outcomes and have the tools and resources they need to reunify with their children. I am incredibly grateful to our CASA/GAL volunteer advocates who are dedicated to helping children and families reunify, and I am so inspired by the parents who work hard to build their own skills and resilience in order to restore their families.
As we celebrate and acknowledge the incredible value of families coming together this month, I thank you for all you do to advance our mission, and for supporting us as we work collectively to help families that are working to strengthen and reunify.
Tara Lisa Perry
CEO, National CASA/GAL Association for Children