“A key focus of mine as Texas’ Attorney General was protecting and fighting for Texas children who, through no fault of their own, were facing difficult and often heartbreaking circumstances. As my office worked to advocate on behalf of these most vulnerable Texans, I came to realize that we needed a strong partner in our effort to help abused an neglected children overcome the challenges they are facing. Whether it was a young child who needed a mentor, or a child who needed a caring guide through what can often be complex legal proceedings, CASA was the partner we were looking for and continues to be an invaluable resource and partner for children in need.”
– Greg Abbott, Texas Governor
Last year in Collin County over 1,650 cases of child abuse or neglect were confirmed by Child Protective Services. In 2016, CASA served 510 children who suffered abuse or neglect so severe, that they were removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Unfortunately, the system that is supposed to protect children isn’t always equipped to ensure that their basic needs and rights are protected.
There is a simple and effective solution: A CASA Volunteer. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. A CASA is a trained advocate who provides a consistent, strong and clear voice for abused and neglected children as they navigate a complicated legal system. CASA often serves as the only stable, trusted adult in their lives as children encounter the changing dynamics of the foster care system.
What We Do
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Collin County advocates for the best interest of children in foster care. Since 1997, we have served 100% of the abused and neglected children removed from their homes in Collin County. Within 24 hours of the removal, CASA is appointed by District Court Judges as the child’s guardian ad litem. As the child’s official voice in court, CASA works tirelessly to make sure the child (and parents) receive the services needed and the child’s case moves through the system as quickly as possible. The goal is for each child to be reunited with family if appropriate or to be placed in a safe and loving forever home if reunification is not possible.
How We Do It
CASA volunteers are everyday citizens appointed by judges to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who have been removed from their homes. One CASA Volunteer Advocate and one casework supervisor remains on each foster child’s case during the long and complicated process in search of a safe and loving forever home. Besides visiting face-to-face with each at least twice a month, CASA advocates obtain first hand information from all parties involved in the child’s life and provide independent testimony in court. A child who has a CASA volunteer by their side receives more services, moves through the system more quickly and has a better chance of a successful outcome, than a child without a CASA.
Why We Do It
Simply put, all children deserve safe and loving homes. As our community grows and the number of abused children continues to grow, our goal is to ensure a CASA will be available to represent 100% of the abused and neglected children in our community.
CASA of Collin County promotes and protects the best interests of children who have been abused or neglected by training volunteer advocates to improve the child’s quality of life and serves as their voice within the court system to ensure they are placed in a safe, permanent and loving home.
All children deserve a safe and loving forever home, free from abuse or neglect. CASA of Collin County is committed to providing well-trained Volunteer Advocates for 100% of children removed from their homes under jurisdiction of the Collin County Courts.
Evidence of Effectiveness
Since its creation by a family court judge in Seattle, Court Appointed Special Advocates has become one of the most effective programs of its kind. Today there are almost 1,000 CASA programs around the country. It is a unique blend of private support, public need and the kind of people power that comes from 70,000 volunteers all committed to the rights of every child in the foster care and child welfare system.
CASA’s program works. Research shows that a child with a CASA moves through the system more quickly, receives more services, does better in school and has better peer and adult relationships. Most importantly, a child with a CASA is significantly less likely to reenter the foster care system, meaning we are helping stop the cycle of abuse and allow for the children to heal and thrive.
Concerned over making decisions about abused and neglected children’s lives without sufficient information, a Seattle judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. This Seattle program was so successful that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with passage of Victims of Child Abuse Act.
Established in 1991, CASA is one of Collin County’s most respected social service organizations, having provided advocates for more than 10,000 children. It is an affiliate member of Texas CASA and the National CASA Associations which have merited awards and recognition nationally from the U.S. Congress and White House. The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized CASA as a model juvenile delinquency prevention program.
In 2015, we received the Promising Practice Award from National CASA recognizing the success of our program.
To learn more about CASA programs, please visit Texas CASA’s website.