First, if you are reading this blog post to learn how you can be an effective advocate for children, kudos to you! We want our future adoptive or foster care parents to feel empowered and confident when taking the next step towards expanding their family.
Second, you may be wondering, “What is a child advocate?” Well, we’ve got you covered! A child advocate speaks up for abused children who are lost in the system and guide them into safe environments where they can thrive.
Here you’ll find five helpful tips on how to advocate for children:
Check Your Privilege!
Quinn Norman Capes-Ivy of Shut Up, Sit Down wrote The Adult Privilege Checklist to inform others what privileges children do not have in regards to becoming their own advocate, like an adult. Many times, children have to rely on adults for guidance and teaching moments, but they might not always be right, correct, or lawful.
As a child…
- It is often considered acceptable, appropriate and even desirable for my caregiver to physically assault me if I do not please them.
- If I am routinely yelled at, criticized, and belittled in my own home, this might not generally be recognized as abusive behavior.
- If I am suffering from mental health problems, I am often dismissed and have them put down to my age.
- Adults often feel they have the right to harass me.
- I might not be able to attend to my bodily needs (housing, food, water, toileting, health needs, taking myself to bed) without relying on someone else to assist me.
Recognizing adult privileges helps allow us to see warning signs of physical, sexual and/or mental abuse among children. If you are not sure when and how to report abuse, The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has an informative guideline on what constitutes as abuse, neglect, and risk. If you’re interested in reading more on adult privilege, check out this article: Because I Said So.
Don’t forget, the internet is your friend! It provides helpful resources to help you understand child advocacy that you may not have access to in your city or state, like Child Advocates, Texas CASA and many more. Staying informed allows you to spread knowledge and awareness, which creates a safer and healthier society.
Become a Youth Mentor
Joining a mentorship program that benefits youth can change or potentially save a life. When you provide guidance, you increase the mentee’s self-esteem. This could provide them with the tools to identify abuse and/or neglect, if any.
Read “From Child Advocate To Adopting” from the Arms Wide Adoption Services Blog
Like many, Tiffany was unsure about having children but was eager to learn how to protect children by becoming a CASA volunteer. Now, Tiffany is an adoptive parent through Arms Wide Adoption Services. To learn more about Tiffany’s story on how she came from being a child advocate to adopting from foster care, click here.
Each year, Arms Wide Adoption Services welcome volunteers. Volunteers help with National Foster Care Appreciation Month in May and our annual Family Holiday Party in December. Volunteers help serve breakfast to families, organize fun arts and craft activities, etc. Volunteering with Arms Wide Adoption Services is the perfect way to practice advocating for children, because you spread awareness about foster care and you get to experience first-hand how the holidays bring joy to our children in need of safe and nurturing adoptive families.
Now that you’ve got the proper tools to become a child advocate, you can transform a life! If you are considering expanding your family, you should attend our next Greater Houston Information Meeting to learn more about the adoption, foster care, and permanency support services we provide. For more information click here.
About The Author
As the Spring 2019 Marketing Intern, Meerber Ojoch will assist with coordinating social media outreach, collaborating with program staff to write blog posts, implement recruitment ideas and activities to the Family Recruitment team, and help leverage Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) and Foster Care Month (May). Read more about Meer here.