PA CASA’s statewide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee was created in May of 2020 to amplify CASA’s ongoing commitment to understanding the impact of racism on children and communities and prioritize equity and inclusion in every facet of our work. Committee members swiftly determined the need to develop resources for local programs and their communities to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive culture within their organization. Representatives from local CASA programs across the state, led by PA CASA staff, began to meet monthly to discuss our aspirations as a network and identify how best to support volunteers and gain a broader perspective of the issue.
The DEI Committee recognized that training for the network would help us better achieve this goal. To that end, throughout September, PA CASA, local CASA programs, and volunteers participated in two such initiatives addressing the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
PA CASA engaged the Harrisburg-based training and consulting firm, VOCE, to provide a two-day class on racial disparity, inherent bias, and white privilege. Twenty-eight participants from PA CASA and local CASA affiliates throughout the network were led by Deborah Wilson Gadsden, VOCE training specialist and author, to engage in this intensive training. Participants were encouraged to step out of their comfort zones while taking a deeper dive into understanding their own biases, the history of racism, white privilege, how to be color brave, and the impact of racial bias on the child welfare system. The training provided a foundation of knowledge regarding diversity and resources to continue their learning and the conversation.
This conversation cannot stop. We need more opportunities to have these discussions.-Annonymous participant evaluation response
The Bryson Institute, a Philadelphia-based Attic Youth Center program, presented “LGBTQ 101” training for the CASA network on the 30th of September. This training brought 58 individuals from the CASA network together to learn more about the LGBTQ community and the unique struggles they face. Trainer Madelyn Morrison provided attendees with a foundation of knowledge surrounding terms and definitions used within the LGBTQ community, LGBTQIA+ youth experiences, and steps to create a safe place for those around us.
PA CASA extends their appreciation to both the team at VOCE and The Bryson Institute for providing a safe space to learn and a foundation of knowledge to advance the DEI initiative of PA CASA and throughout our network.
Acknowledging there’s much work ahead for all of us, CASA programs across the Commonwealth are committed to creating sustainable change. We cannot help children thrive without acknowledging and addressing the structural and cultural inequities in our communities, but we will continue to intentionally and systematically engage in policies, practices, and systems that promote justice and equity for our staff, partners, and the communities they serve. PA CASA and the DEI Committee will continue to explore more training opportunities to ensure a diverse and inclusive organization.
To view upcoming training opportunities specific to your role, visit CASA College.[simple-author-box]