WACO, Texas — This Hispanic Heritage Month, CASA of McLennan County is looking for more Spanish-speaking court-appointed special advocates for children and families in the foster care system.
In 2020, roughly 40 percent of the children in the foster care system were Hispanic. CASA of McLennan County has just three Hispanic volunteers. Only two of them are bilingual.
CASA volunteers said having advocates who look like the children they work with, speak like them, and have a similar background is important. For Hispanic children, that can be hard to come by.
"It makes such a difference in these families' lives to see someone like them and that is able to communicate with them in their language," said Karen Davis, advocate supervisor for CASA.
Jose Muñiz, a Hispanic CASA volunteer, said he can relate with the children in his cases even further. He was once in the CPS system himself.
"Going through that CPS system, you know, kids kind of think, 'Hey, my future's being written right now,'" he said. "But with me, I went through the system and I was able to graduate high school, graduate college, and have a successful life."
Monica Lopez-Hagen, another Hispanic CASA said that the experience she's had working with CASA has been incredibly rewarding.
"It's a life-changer for you too. You learn so much. Your heart will open up to all these people," she said.