The Snohomish County Office of the CASA is committed to helping all children find a safe, permanent, and nurturing home. In 2021, the CASA Program began a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign All Children-All Families (ACAF) project to implement LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. With a rigorous years-long process underway, we are working to diligently conduct an internal self-assessment, provide professional development to staff, continuing education to volunteers and implement ACAF’s Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion, which track policy and practice changes within our program. Our participation in ACAF’s project illustrates our recognition and commitment to LGBTQ-inclusion and understanding that it is essential to achieving the goals of safety, permanency and well-being to all children in the child welfare system. According to a 2019 study, LGBTQ+ youth are severely overrepresented in the foster care system; 30.2% of foster care youth identify as LGBTQ+, compared to 11.2 percent of their peers who are not in foster care. This discrepancy illustrates the need for those working inside of the child welfare system to be equipped to provide specialized and appropriate support, resources, and advocacy to this marginalized community. Alongside the Human Rights Campaign and local experts in the field, Snohomish County CASA has made available trainings and resources to educate and prepare staff and CASA volunteers to effectively support and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth who face unique challenges in the child welfare system.
In addition to ensuring effective advocacy to the LGBTQ+ youth in foster care, Snohomish County CASA is committed to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion throughout all aspects of the program, including staff and volunteers. Volunteers with diverse perspectives, backgrounds, identities, and life-experiences, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, are encouraged to apply to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate today.