Texas CASA CFE Symposium
Pictured here, from left, Vicki Spriggs-Texas CASA CEO, Tim Judkins, Lauren Townsend, and Kevin Campbell, CEO of Pale Blue and developer of Family Finding and Family Seeing.
Two of our CASA of Central Texas Team Lead Casework Supervisors, Tim Judkins and Lauren Townsend attended the Texas CASA CFE (Collaborative Family Engagement) Symposium in Denton, Texas on May 3rd & 4th.
Tim speaks highly of the CFE approach and his experience with it, “CASA of Central Texas has been involved with Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) since 2016, when I was invited to attend a conference that introduced it in Corpus Christi. Since then, our program has expanded its understanding and involvement in CFE, both at the supervisory and volunteer levels. I first heard Kevin Campbell speak on Family Finding at that 2016 conference and have been privileged to hear him multiple times since. His message of healing families so that that they are better equipped to raise their own children never gets old. This year, at the CFE Symposium, I heard that message again and it allowed me to recalibrate my approach to the families and children assigned to my caseload. I left encouraged, inspired and not a little challenged to find creative, out-of-the-box ways to place as much appropriate focus and energy as possible on parents and relatives so that children can be safely returned to them by the close of a case. The Symposium allowed for networking among other CASA programs, DFPS, and service providers. Ideas were shared and discussed that permitted us to make application and generate our own plans for how to move CFE forward in our program.”
A huge thank you to our Advocates and Program Staff who engage in this work each and every day!
EXPERIENCED ADVOCATES PANEL
Our very own advocates provided training to our program! Texas State University student and CASA intern, Daniela Esparza, moderated a panel of four experienced advocates: Beth Hittle, Laurel Jensen, Angel Jones, and Sharon Miller. The first topic covered was getting started after accepting a case as a CASA volunteer and making sense of the court process. The panel answered FAQs that our newest advocates typically have, such as how to prepare for a court hearing and how to work with families involved in the child welfare system. Our CASA volunteers are eager to make sure they are interacting with attorneys, caseworkers, children, relatives, placements, and service providers in a manner that is in the best interest of the children we serve.
Get to know the Intern: Daniela Esparza
School attending: Texas State University
Year in School: Senior
Degree pursuing: Applied Sociology with a minor in Diversity Studies
How long is your internship with CASA? 300 hours
Why did you choose CASA as your internship? I really like CASA and had been an advocate for a year before starting my internship. I wanted to get more into it and have more time for cases. I also wanted to get some insight into how everyone else works their cases and what goes on behind the scenes.
What did you know about CASA before your internship? I knew the basics, since I had been through training and was an advocate, but now I get to see all of the other parts of CASA!
What are some of the activities you have done as an intern? I am currently working 2 cases, so everything involved with those. I have also participated in visits to kids, observed a mediation, and observed a Circle of Support meeting. I am a member of the Legislative Action Team and got to attend CASA Day at the Capitol, meet with legislators as well as meet advisory board and board members that were also attending. The project I am working on is hosting the Experienced Advocate Panel CE. In addition, I have also done some general office organization/filing, and been able to attend networking/community organization meetings.
What is something big that you have learned through your internship? The cases, and how hectic they can be. Juggling my time/time management has definitely been a priority!
How has CASA prepared you for your future career? I want to work with foster/adoption (specifically teens), so I have learned a lot about that side of things.
What are your future plans? I would like to work as an adoption specialist, open to all opportunities, but looking at working in that role with a licensing agency.
A big congratulations to the first group of new advocates sworn in for 2023! On February 15th, Judge Melissa McClenahan swore in 9 new CASA of Central Texas volunteer advocates. Click below to view the Swearing-In Ceremony and to see what Judge McClenahan has to say about our volunteers.
Please help us welcome Gloria Whelan (Comal), Jon Cooper (Comal), Cheryl McClintock (Bexar), Brandi Goen (Comal), Sophia O’Rourke (Hays), Bridget McPhillips (Comal), Stephanie Cook (Comal), Joshua Powell (Guadalupe), and Jamie Martinez (Hays). We are excited to have these advocates on our team and cannot wait to see them advocate for kids in these communities!
CASA of Central Texas recently received a donation of Birthday Boxes from the Impact Coordinator at Together We Rise, a nonprofit that supports children in foster care. They had an incredible donor in Texas that sponsored the boxes, and they offered them to CASA.
We appreciate the work of Together We Rise, and all of our community partners, businesses and nonprofits alike. We know these Birthday Boxes will help brighten some birthdays for kids in care!
Find out more about Together We Rise–https://www.togetherwerise.org/
Earl and Sue Dittman accepted their first case in 2011 and completed their fourth case in 2022. Together they served their fourth case for a little over 6 years! Earl and Sue were extremely dedicated to the children they served on each of their cases. They drove many miles over the years to visit children as placements changed. Not only did they attend every case related meeting they also would attend extra-curricular activities, graduations, birthday parties, etc. so the children would feel supported in their efforts and accomplishments. Earl and Sue eagerly took the cases offered to them and worked them diligently, always keeping the children’s best interest at the forefront. Some of the children/young adults Earl and Sue have served have continued to keep in touch with them and are eager to share their accomplishments with this couple that genuinely cared for their well-being throughout the time they were in the foster care system.
Earl and Sue have hearts to serve others and have done so without expecting recognition or praise in many areas of their lives. Earl and Sue have a large family that is one of their greatest treasures. Since finishing their first case last year, they have moved out of the area to be closer to some of their family. They will be greatly missed by our CASA of Central Texas family, but their commitment, care, and dedication to children and families will be an example for many in the years to come.
April 28th was game night for CASACenTex as supporters gathered for our annual fundraiser, Tailgate with Team CASA. We heard from our honorees, current advocates, a foster child turned adoptive parent, a District Attorney and more, all calling for more CASA volunteers. Thank you to everyone who came out to support the event. See photos from the evening here
Thank you to Dutch Bros Coffee for supporting CASA of Central Texas by donating $1 from every drink on Friday, April 14th!
Dutch Bros is taking meaningful and measurable action in philanthropy; sustainability; and diversity, equity and inclusion to drive us toward our vision of making a massive difference, one cup at a time.
Find out how you can give back at Giving Back | Dutch Bros.
“We are committed to creating a better future for each of our employees, customers and communities.” -Dutch Bros website
As we entered a new era of advocating for children and families experiencing foster care, we were called upon with urgency. With the community providing a strong foundation, we were able to answer – but we know there is more progress to be made ahead.
Bracing ourselves for surprises and challenges, however, was inevitable. The foster care system as a whole has been in crisis. A nationwide shortage of foster families. Multiple hardships related to the pandemic created complexities: fear of contracting the virus, job loss, and mental health crisis. Simultaneously, the pandemic caused court cases to stall and family reunifications became delayed as a result.
With nowhere else to turn, children slept in hotel rooms or state office buildings or were shipped to placements out of state. An overwhelmed foster care system gave way to overwhelmed children, in need of support as they grappled with prolonged emotions like loneliness, depression, anxiety, and grief.
This is where we stepped in as Court Appointed Special Advocates ready to provide guidance, comfort, and familiarity. Trained advocates upheld children’s best interests and well-being by ensuring access to mental and physical health care, education, and community during their time in foster care. Volunteers recorded 646 hours advocating for medical needs and 661 hours advocating for the educational needs of their CASA children. We are extremely proud of what advocates accomplished for the children and are equally proud of our 72% volunteer retention rate during this tumultuous year – well above the national average.
What statistics fail to capture is the sigh of relief a CASA child gives when they realize they don’t have to carry their burdens on their own anymore or the smile that lights up a child’s face once their advocate shows them they’ll remain by their side through the ups and downs. That’s the investment you make with CASA. We hope you’ll continue to stand strong in our mission – to ensure every child in foster care has that exact moment of hope and relief.
Excerpt from our 2022 Impact Report.
Read more about our activities and outcomes from 2022 here.
We are excited to announce another MVP Sponsor for Tailgate with Team CASA! Thank you, Chandelier of Gruene, for your generous support. Get in early on the great sponsorship benefits and recognition by clicking here: https://www.classy.org/event/tailgate-with-team-casa/e418678
Thank you for your continued support, Hochheim Prairie Insurance! Also, thank you to Carol Grimm for being an exceptional advocate and supporter for many years!
We are excited to announce our MVP Sponsor for Tailgate with Team CASA! Thank you, Water 2 Wine New Braunfels, for your generous support. Get in early on the great sponsorship benefits and recognition by clicking here: https://www.classy.org/event/tailgate-with-team-casa/e418678
Save the date for our Annual Dinner and Auction: April 28, 2023! Tailgate with Team CASA, Cheering on Children Since 1985.
We envision a world where every child thrives in a safe, stable and loving home. In FY22, 255 trained CASA volunteers advocated for 562 Central Texas children. That left 480 children without a CASA. With your help, we can serve more. This is CASA’s largest annual fundraising event and includes dinner, live and silent auctions, games, live music and entertainment as guests celebrate the accomplishments made in the fight against child abuse.
Get in early on the great sponsorship benefits and recognition by clicking below! https://www.classy.org/event/tailgate-with-team-casa/e418678