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!