Because Respect Matters

-Happi Grillon, December 2020

We are all living in tumultuous times. Black Lives Matter. Supreme Court. COVID-19. Presidential Election. At CASA Philadelphia we think that it is more important than ever that we clearly pronounce our commitment and support of those who are marginalized and discriminated against, especially when they are abused and neglected children in Philadelphia. To that end, we fully integrate National CASA’s statement on respect:

We respect and celebrate diversity in all of its forms, understand that it affects all aspects of our work at National CASA/GAL, and strive to be inclusive and welcoming.

· Giving due respect to self and others
· Fostering a trusting, open and inclusive environment at all levels within the organization
· Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact
· Managing the dynamics of difference, and acquiring and institutionalizing cultural knowledge

Here in Philadelphia we consistently strive to fulfill this goal. We have consciously worked to recruit a diverse board of directors and staff. We have also undertaken a recruitment campaign to make our volunteers population more closely mirror our client population.

In 2019 CASA Philadelphia served 324 children. The vast majority, 246 identified as African American/Black. However only 29 of our 125 volunteers in 2019 also identified as African American/Black. Half of those children were boys while we had just 16 male volunteers.

Simply put we need more men and more African American/Black community members to become trained CASA advocates. In addition, CASA has committed to more actively recruiting in the LGBTQ+ community. We know that statistically LGBTQ+ youth are over represented in foster care and we wish to provide a strong advocate voice for them among our volunteers.

We pledge that the work we do will always strive to make CASA an outstanding example of diversity, equity and inclusion. But the way forward to the goal of real representation is dependent on members of our community making the commitment to care and to serve the youth of Philadelphia. If you have the time, apply to become a CASA, if you don’t, make a donation and follow us on social media to help us spread the word. Encourage others to consider volunteering. Together we can work to elevate the voice of children in foster care.

-Happi Grillon, has been the executive director of CASA of Philadelphia since 2016

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