(AUSTIN) Court Appointed Special Advocates™ called on Texas lawmakers for money needed to recruit and train volunteers who will serve an additional 4,000 Texas foster children. CASA leaders says that they know money is tight, but in tough economic times, more children are abused and neglected and will enter the foster care system, increasing the need for CASA volunteers to help them. Right now in the Highland Lakes Area (Blanco, Burnet, Lampasas, Llano and San Saba counties) there are currently 172 children in foster care.
CASA for the Highland Lakes Area and other programs around Texas strive to provide a CASA volunteer for every foster child. CASA volunteers provide vital help by interviewing everyone involved in a foster child’s life including doctors, lawyers, parents, teachers and others - then make recommendations to the judge about the best way to help the child.
Volunteers, most who have no experience working with the Texas Legislature, told lawmakers how they have helped children they work with get through the foster care system to a safe, permanent home. Terri Buss, CASA volunteer, told lawmakers, “Because of CASA involvement, ‘Briana’, a baby born addicted to drugs and placed in foster care, now has a chance for a bright, productive future; she was adopted at 18 months by relatives who will raise and nurture her in a safe and loving home.”
Volunteers Charlene Brister, Terri Buss, Don Graham, Kathy Kasparek and Cindy Pearce; Staff, Leigh-Anne Eaton, Karon Justice, Barbie Ott, Steve Spears and Diane Wells traveled to Austin from Burnet, San Saba, Marble Falls, Kingsland and Llano as one of more than 100 volunteers who told lawmakers they know first hand the difference a CASA volunteer can make in a child’s life.
“CASA volunteers make such a huge difference in the lives of foster children. That’s why it’s so sad we don’t have enough volunteers in the state to help every child,” said Penny McCullough, Executive Director. “I hope lawmakers understand that finding money to recruit and train more volunteers isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s a necessary thing to do.”
CASA volunteers play an essential role helping abused children find permanency in an overburden court system. In 2008, there were 44,928 children in state custody due to abuse and neglect allegations. More than 25,000 children did not have a CASA to help guide them to a safe, permanent home.
CASA Day at the Capitol included a training session for volunteers before they spoke to lawmakers, visits with Senators and Representatives from all over the state. Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Patrick Rose introduced resolutions honoring CASA. Volunteers wrapped up their time at the Capitol by posing for a photo with Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Anyone who is interested in helping foster children can go to www.BecomeACASA.org for more information.