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Empowering families in court dependency

Parents whose kids have been removed due to abuse or neglect are required to attend parenting classes...what about financial education too?

Photo of Wendy Cleveland
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I am a CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocate. What does that mean? I volunteer to be an advocate for a child in the court dependency system. My experiences as a CASA have shown me that these families need financial empowerment. (CASA is a national non-profit organization).

The court dependency system is a community. Typically low income and poorly educated, the parents temporarily lose custody of their children when Child Protective Services (CPS - may be called different names in other states) identifies the children have been victims of abuse or neglect.

Children go to live with relatives if they are lucky. Otherwise, group homes or foster homes fulfill their basic needs.

What makes this a community? First, because they have shared experiences. This is highly traumatic for families. Second, the court system is typically geographically based, so the families involved are segmented by where they live. Finally, resources are geographically based; for instance, substance abuse rehabilitation services, mental health resources, and parenting classes are provided locally.

If we can partner with existing community resources who already provide so much to help these families, we can help them long-term by empowering them with financial education and resources. Examples could include seminars, personal financial coaching, starter accounts. These would be not only for the parents, but also for their teen children and teens who have not been reunited with their families but are aging out of the court dependency system.

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks for the post Wendy! This is an interesting thought about forming collaborations between social service and financial literacy programs. Are there any specific organizations in your community that you think would benefit from or would be open to testing this approach. It'd also be great to gain a better understanding of the correlation between economic poverty and family neglect. Here is another great conversation that you might be interested in joining in on: https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/financial-empowerment-begins-at-home