AUSTIN, Texas--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--As the Texas State Legislature grapples with a massive overhaul of the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) and foster care system, Texas CASA and CPS are expanding upon the concerted effort to facilitate better case management and care for children in foster care through the Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) Initiative. CFE adopts the approach of looking beyond immediate family members to identify permanent placement options for children in state care.
“The partnership between Texas CASA and CPS through the formative CFE program is an example of how advocates for foster children can work together to find innovative solutions for a crisis affecting our most vulnerable population in Texas”
“The partnership between Texas CASA and CPS through the formative CFE program is an example of how advocates for foster children can work together to find innovative solutions for a crisis affecting our most vulnerable population in Texas,” said Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO.
The initiative is now entering its second year and expanding to areas across the state to serve additional children and families. To broaden knowledge of the CFE project, Texas CASA has invited internationally recognized youth permanency expert Kevin Campbell to host a training session for CASA volunteers and employees in Austin on Feb. 15. Campbell is the founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness, and developer of the Family Finding model on which the CFE Initiative is based. Both Family Finding and CFE employ the use of tools and strategies to locate and engage extended family members of children in foster care.
However, CFE goes further in its approach by forming a close collaboration between CPS and local CASA programs to identify a network of extended family connections which can result in a child spending less time in foster care and being reunified with family, or finding an alternative permanent placement, much faster. Such expediency works to lessen the feelings of stress and instability a child may experience when he or she is removed from their home. Studies have shown that children in long-term foster care may suffer from extreme loneliness which can lead to a lifetime of ill effects including future drug use, involvement in the criminal justice system and homelessness.
“I am greatly impressed by the tremendous work and collaboration occurring between CPS and CASA in the CFE Initiative,” said Campbell. “Through additional training and expansion of the program, we are working to ensure better outcomes in the health, care and well-being of Texas children.”
During CFE’s first year of implementation, CASA staff described gaining a better understanding of the ways family connections can support case planning and management beyond serving as placement options for children. More importantly, both CPS and CASA volunteers shared that CFE provides tools and resources that enhance the way they serve families, particularly enabling CASA volunteers to play a more significant role in the case process.
As the CFE project begins year two of its implementation, CPS and Texas CASA will continue to improve the program and strengthen the collaboration between the two organizations as it works to expand across the state to serve additional families. This action will call for the recruiting and training of additional CPS staff and CASA volunteers. As such, local CASA programs are actively recruiting additional community volunteers to see the continued success of the CFE Initiative. To learn how you can help and become a CASA volunteer, visit BecomeACASA.org.
About Texas CASA
Austin-based Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is the statewide organization of 72 local CASA programs that recruit and train volunteers to advocate for children in the child protection system. Last year, 9,131 well-trained volunteers served 27,953 children in 213 of the 254 Texas counties. Texas CASA supports the local CASA programs by advocating for effective public policy for children in the child protection system and by providing funding, training and technical assistance to program staff, board and volunteers.
CASA volunteers are everyday members of the community doing extraordinary work by choosing to speak up for abused and neglected children in their communities. They are screened and trained, then appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child or sibling group in the foster care system. CASA volunteers work to move the children through foster care and into safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.