PRESS RELEASE: Announcing Launch of the Multicultural Advocacy Program (MAP) at CASA DC
Washington, DC – June 2020 – CASA for Children of DC is pleased to announce the official launch of a new program on June 30, 2020! The Multicultural Advocacy Program (MAP Program) will provide Court Appointed Special Advocates to court-involved youth in DC who are Unaccompanied Refugee Minors, immigrant-origin youth, and children from culturally diverse backgrounds. A virtual information session regarding the MAP Program will be held on June 30, 2020.
CASA DC began serving the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) population in January of 2015. The CASA DC Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program (URM Program) was started in the same year. A key difference between the URM Program and the overall CASA DC Standard Program was that referrals to the URM Program only came from Magistrate Judge Julie Breslow, the presiding judge over neglect matters involving URM youth in foster care.
In the Fall of 2019 CASA DC determined that continuing the URM Program in its original form would not be in the best interest of the organization. Due to minimal capacity for referrals and limited population scope, CASA DC proceeded to cease operations of the URM Program. CASA DC continued to serve URM youth and worked diligently to learn more about the needs of the URM population. CASA DC held meetings with Magistrate Judge Julie Breslow, former and current CASA volunteers, and URM service providers. The MAP Program was piloted in early 2020 and is currently serving a total of 18 cases involving URM, immigrant-origin, and culturally diverse youth who have been referred from various judges presiding over cases on the family & neglect docket.
CASA DC conducted research and identified initial population targets closely related to the population of URM youth within the foster care system, such as immigrant and the immigrant-origin population. A large number of immigrant households are composed of mixed-status families in which members have different legal statuses. Almost 30 percent of young children of immigrants live in families with one or more undocumented parents, and 81 percent of young children of immigrants have a non-citizen parent. Both URM youth and youth of immigrant-origin tend to have shared areas of need such as immigration status concerns, misconceptions and fear of service providers, cultural adjustment struggles, and a lack of culturally responsive support. To help address these needs, the MAP Program plans to hold “know your rights” workshops for youth, provide opportunities for community involvement, and be a safe space for youth to learn about the resources available to them while they identify, pursue, and reach their goals.
The goal of the MAP program is to provide effective and focused advocacy tailored to the unique needs of immigrant-origin youth and unaccompanied refugee minors. Research shows that there are significantly improved outcomes for these youth when the youth have a stable mentor. For this reason, CASA volunteers assigned to the MAP Program have an increased focus on mentorship, while continuing to advocate for youth. CASA volunteers provide youth the opportunity to have a safe, consistent, and healthy relationship. CASA volunteers help mediate traumatic experiences by supporting youth and demonstrating signals of care such as communicating warmth, empathy, and positive regard. Through fun and cultural experiences between CASA volunteers and their youth, youth have a source of mentorship while culturally adjusting to his or her new environment and are at less risk of experiencing culture shock. The aim of the MAP Program is to provide culturally responsive advocacy and mentorship.
CASA volunteers in the MAP Program receive specialized training. The MAP Program training provides an opportunity for CASA’s to attain a level of competence in intercultural relations and working with people from multicultural backgrounds. It is also designed to orient CASA’s with the unique court process that URM youth go through. All MAP CASA volunteers are required to complete a three-hour training, within one quarter of accepting a MAP Program case. The course consists of case studies, interactive group activities, and cultural sensitivity training, and will be held on a quarterly basis. The MAP Program training seeks to prepare CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interest of this vulnerable population of youth.
The MAP Program strives to match unaccompanied refugee minors, immigrant-origin youth, and children from culturally diverse backgrounds with a supportive and culturally responsive CASA volunteer who can address their cultural, academic, life-skills, and overall needs so that they can maximize their potential and achieve economic and social self-sufficiency.
CASA DC is proud to be launching a program that supports immigrant youth and families in a time of ever-changing policies and regulations related to this population. For more information about CASA DC’s special programs, visit our Programs page.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020 from 1:00 PM - 1:30 PM, CASA for Children of DC will host a virtual information session. To RSVP, please email MAP@casadc.org.
Contact: Rashidat Alarape, Multicultural Advocacy Program Manager