May is National Foster Care Month, a time to raise awareness about the needs of children in foster care and the vital role that foster families and child welfare professionals play in their lives. It can be a difficult and uncertain time for children in the foster care system. Last year there were 59,934 children in the Texas foster care system, 148 of whom were right here in South Central Texas. National Foster Care Month is an opportunity to shine a light on their experiences and encourage support for the work organizations like CASA for Kids do to help them.
For many children in foster care, their CASA volunteer may be the only consistent adult presence in their lives. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of the usual supports for these children, such as in-person visits with family members, may not be possible. As a result, CASA volunteers have had to adapt to new methods to ensure they can still be there for the children who need them.
National Foster Care Month is a time to recognize and thank the foster families who open their hearts and homes to children in need. Foster parents provide stability, safety, and love to children who may have experienced trauma and disruption in their young lives. They play a vital role in helping children in foster care to heal and thrive.
This month is also an opportunity to highlight the need for more foster families. Across the country, there is a shortage of foster families, and many children are placed far away from their communities and schools because of a lack of available placements. If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent, we hope this can serve as a friendly shove. Foster care is essential for protecting children temporarily. It is not meant to be a permanent solution.
Here are several characteristics of successful foster families:
There are many ways to support National Foster Care Month and the work of organizations like CASA for Kids. You can learn more about the foster care system, volunteer with a local organization, or donate to support their essential work. No matter how small, every contribution can make a difference in a child's life in foster care.
National Foster Care Month is a time to recognize and honor the children in foster care, the foster families who care for them, and the organizations that work to support them. We are grateful for CASA for Kids' work to provide advocacy and support to children in the foster care system, and we encourage everyone to take action to support this vital cause.
For more information on fostering in Texas, visit dfps.texas.gov
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and CASA for Kids of South Central Texas is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA volunteers, and help end child abuse and neglect, through supporting children and their families. While it's a difficult topic to discuss, it's essential to acknowledge that child abuse is a serious problem that affects many children across the globe. Locally, our program served 148 children in the foster care system in Austin, Colorado, Waller and Washington counties… just in 2022.
As a society, it's our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. While preventing child abuse may seem like a daunting task, there are simple things that everyone can do to help. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the ways you can make a difference in preventing child abuse.
Learn the signs of child abuse
One of the most important things you can do is educate yourself on the signs of child abuse. Child abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Some signs of abuse may include unexplained injuries, sudden changes in behavior, difficulty sleeping, or inappropriate sexual behavior for their age. By learning the signs of child abuse, you can help identify when a child is in danger and take appropriate action.
Report suspected abuse
If you suspect a child is being abused, it's crucial to report it to the appropriate authorities by calling 1 (800) 252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org. If a child’s life is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911. Reporting suspected abuse can be challenging, but it's essential to protect the child's safety and well-being.
Volunteer your time
There are many organizations that work to prevent child abuse and support survivors. Volunteering your time can make a significant impact in helping these organizations achieve their goals. Consider volunteering at a local CASA For Kids or even become an official court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for a child in the foster care system. If you’re interested in volunteering with the South Central Texas CASA team specifically, contact our director Mandy Wright email@example.com.
Donate to child abuse prevention organizations
If you're not able to volunteer your time, consider donating to organizations that work to prevent child abuse. These organizations may provide counseling services, educational programs, or advocacy for child abuse survivors. Every donation, no matter how small, can make a difference in the lives of children. Click HERE to make a direct donation to CASA For Kids of South Central Texas.
We at CASA for Kids always hope for the day when CASA, foster care and a national month dedicated to child abuse prevention are no longer needed because all children are growing up safe, secure and supported with their families. Until then, we will continue to seek more members of the community to join our growing movement so that we can provide a CASA volunteer for every child who needs one. Let's work together to ensure that every child has a safe and loving environment to grow and thrive in. This April, consider stepping up to make a difference by becoming a CASA volunteer.
March is Social Worker Appreciation Month. We want to honor the countless social workers who make a profound impact on the lives of individuals and families every day. Social workers are integral in our communities, serving as advocates, counselors, and supporters to those in need. Their tireless work and dedication to their profession are truly admirable, as they tirelessly work to promote social justice, equality, and well-being for all. Social workers are an integral piece of the CASA For Kids mission. They demonstrate incredible empathy, compassion, and resilience, working tirelessly to empower individuals and families to overcome challenges and reach their full potential. As we take time to acknowledge and celebrate our beloved social workers this month, we also want to talk about an upcoming event that involves all of our CASA supporters!
This April, our much anticipated “Sweet 16 Cake Smash Celebration” will take place. Cake Smash is a special virtual awareness campaign for the advocates, volunteers, and supporters who have helped CASA grow and continue to advocate for children in our local areas. Participants that fundraise $1,000 or more agree to take a cake in the face for CASA! This fundraiser has become a crowd favorite for our South Central Texas chapter. CASA volunteers are encouraged to set fundraising goals, share their campaign and eventually reach their monetary goal! Once they hit the $1,000 mark, they happily receive a cake smashed in their face.
The beauty of this event is that we encourage any and all friends and volunteers to participate. It’s not just for our staff members or loyal social workers. By volunteering for CASA, you have the opportunity to be a voice for these vulnerable children, to ensure that their needs are being met, and that they are receiving the care and services they require to thrive. And sometimes, we get to witness that dedication in action… with a cake to the face!
You don’t need to be a social worker to be a CASA volunteer. However, the success of each CASA program is dependent on the tireless work of the beloved social work profession. Social workers can play a vital role in CASA for Kids as they often provide critical support to the CASA volunteers and the children they serve. Social workers have expertise in assessing and addressing the needs of children and families, which can be invaluable in the CASA program. They may provide guidance and support to the CASA volunteer in understanding the child's history, needs, and strengths. Social workers can also assist with identifying resources and services that may be helpful to the child and their family, such as counseling, medical care, or educational support.
Additionally, social workers can provide ongoing monitoring and support to the child and the CASA volunteer throughout the case, ensuring that the child's needs are being met and that progress is being made towards achieving a safe, permanent home. Social workers can also play a key role in facilitating communication and collaboration between the various parties involved in the child welfare system, including the CASA volunteer, the child's family, the courts, and other professionals. Ultimately, the partnership between social workers and CASA volunteers can be a powerful force for positive change in the lives of children in foster care.
We hope that this celebration gives you more insight to the noble profession of social workers and all that they do for CASA For Kids. By volunteering for CASA, you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of children in need, and help to ensure that they have a brighter future. Let’s take this opportunity to recognize and celebrate the vital contributions of social workers, and express our gratitude for their invaluable service to society. You don’t need to be a social worker to be a CASA volunteer. You just need to have the desire to make a difference – just like our colleagues in the social work field.
Email our Executive Director, Mandy Wright to learn more about participating in our Sweet Sixteen Cake Smash!
For many of us Valentine’s Day is a chance to show our affection for the important people in our lives through cards, flowers and other gifts. But candy and cards will be the last thing on the minds of many of the children in the foster care system who will be facing this special day far away from their friends, families and other loved ones.
When a family is in crisis and a child enters the child welfare system, they often live in a foster home far away from their home community. Though they have done nothing to deserve it, they face challenges and unforeseen consequences as the result of being in foster care. They tend to move from placement to placement and school to school – running the risk of losing touch with the friends, mentors, family, and other loved ones in their lives.
Volunteers with CASA for Kids of South-Central Texas advocate for these children, ensure they are safe and cared for, and work hard to keep them connected with their communities, families and loved ones while they are in foster care and beyond. “Studies show that one of the key indicators for child well-being is the number of committed adults in their lives,” Mandy Wright, Executive Director of CASA for Kids of South-Central Texas. “In addition to speaking up for children’s best interests in court, our CASA volunteers can play an integral part in making sure they maintain positive relationships with their parents, families, friends, mentors and home communities in whatever ways possible.”
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers are everyday people who are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child or sibling group in the foster care system. CASA for Kids of South-Central Texas is one of the CASA programs in Texas that recruits, screens, and trains these volunteers. “Foster care can be scary, lonely and uncertain for children, especially when they are placed far away from everything and everyone they know,” said Wright. “CASA volunteers advocate for these children in court, school and other settings, building a positive relationship with them, helping to keep them connected and reminding them that they are not alone.”
CASA volunteers get to know the child on a personal level and communicate with everyone involved in their life, including parents and other family members, foster parents, social workers and others. They work with the child’s caseworker and others on the case to build and strengthen a lifetime network of family and other committed adults who will support the child and each other even after the child’s time in foster care ends. “CASA volunteers advocate first and foremost for reunification with the child’s parents, with the child’s safety as the first priority,” said Wright. “When reunification is not safe or possible, they advocate for the child to live with other family, or with a caring adoptive family.”
If you’d like to learn more about CASA for Kids, or get involved with us locally, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Look into the New Year with CASA for Kids
CASA for Kids South Central Texas continues to grow and serve the children in our area that have less than optimal home lives. As we enter our 16th year, we’re excited and motivated to maintain and expand our advocacy for children who may have been abused and neglected. Our local program, (serving Austin, Colorado, Waller and Washington counties) has a lot in store for the coming year. Both to better serve kids and expand our volunteer force here.
As we look to the coming year with motivation, we can’t help but reminisce on the great victories that came in 2022. Some highlights were: CASA for Kids of South-Central Texas served 147 children in foster care in 2022 with 63 CASA volunteers. Volunteers drove over 43,317 miles and logged almost 6,000 volunteer hours, to assist children in need. 53% of all cases were closed in 2022 resulting in 57% of children reunified with parents, 36% placed with relatives, and 6% adopted to non-related family. Our three main fundraising efforts; the annual cake smash, our fall gala, and our playhouse raffle were all very successful! To top it all off, our building got a bright new face-lift!
With 2022 in the rearview mirror, here are some of the exciting things that we have up our sleeves.
A Sweet 16 Cake Smash Celebration- April 29th
Based on our previous success and growing excitement, we’re excited to announce that we will be having our “Sweet 16 Cake Smash Celebration” this coming April. This fundraiser has become a crowd favorite for our South-Central Texas program. Fans of CASA are encouraged to set fundraising goals, with the intention of meeting and exceeding them… and have some fun along the way! Once that happens, they happily receive a cake smashed in their face. It’s a hoot! We’ll be sharing more details on the upcoming sash-fest soon.
3rd Annual CASA Gala- Fall 2023
We’ll also be bringing back our annual gala in the fall of 2023. Last year we were so fortunate to have the support of community partners, donors, and attendees. With over 300 guests, we doubled our fundraising efforts and continued to spread our mission throughout our four counties. We have high hopes for an even more dynamic 2023 fall gala. We’ll share more of the specifics through the coming months.
Monthly Group Meet Ups
Volunteering with CASA is an opportunity unlike any other, so we thought we should open our doors to the community as a time to learn as much as possible about our mission. We have three different styles of meetups, all with unique purposes. All of them are open to the public and will be held on the training side of the Brenham building. We kindly ask that you RSVP
before attending any of these group meet-ups by emailing email@example.com
Brunch with the Board
This will be a light lunch provided for the community to get to know our board members and their roles within the CASA program. These events will be held on April 14th, August 25th, and October 27th. All three will begin at 11:30 am.
Coffee with a CASA
This is a morning coffee conversation with current advocates within our program. It’s open to all, as a chance to hear firsthand what it’s like to be an advocate. These events will take place on January 27th, March 31st, June 30th, and September 29th- all at 8:15 am.
Sweets with the Staff
This is a relaxed afternoon shared between community volunteers and the local CASA staff to better understand the inner workings of our mission. This is meant for those of you who simply want to know more about CASA for Kids of South-Central Texas. These events will take place on February 24th, May 25th, July 28th, and November 30- all at 2:00 pm.
If you’re looking for a new way to volunteer and give back, consider advocating to help children and families in the child welfare system by volunteering with CASA for Kids of South-Central Texas. Over 11,000 children are currently in the Texas child welfare system. These children have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care, sometimes far away from their families and communities. They need a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate®) volunteer to stand by their side and advocate for them.
We hope that you consider CASA South Central Texas as an opportunity to do some good in the new year. If you would like CASA for Kids to come to you business, church, organization or civic group to share our mission, please reach our Executive Director, Mandy Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also call our local office at 979.277.0088. Everyone can be a difference maker by sharing the mission of CASA, with others!