The Texas Bar Foundation awarded a grant this month toward Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, with the hopes of recruiting and training more volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children.
CASA of Central Texas advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system by recruiting, training and supporting community volunteers.
Advocating for children in this area for more than 35 years, CASA acts as the eyes and ears of the judges hearing Child Protection Court cases.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in grants to law-related programs.
Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation
CASA of Central Texas Executive Director Norma Blackwell said the grant demonstrates the Texas Bar Foundation’s dedication to the welfare of children in the state.
“With these funds, CASA will ‘Go The Extra Mile’ by empowering CASA volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children and youth in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties. We are working toward a goal of providing a CASA volunteer to every child in State care to ensure they do not fall through the cracks of an overburdened system,” Blackwell said. “I am happy that, with this support from the Texas Bar Foundation, we will be able to recruit and train more volunteers, helping us get closer to our goal.”
CASA volunteers receive an initial 42 hours of training and are provided with continued training throughout their service time.
They also receive guidance from their casework supervisor. Blackwell said the funds provided by the foundation will allow not only more training to be held but also better support for volunteers while they are serving on a case.
CASA volunteer John Barthel said his time as a volunteer has taught him the importance of each child having an advocate inside the courtroom and out.
“I have learned the value to a child of having an adult just ‘be there’ consistently over the long haul,” Barthel said. “Both in good times and bad, it seems that having a loyal, consistent, non-judging adult can reduce some of the anxiety in a foster child’s life, and provide some much-needed stability.”
In 2019, CASA volunteers served nearly 600 children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties, but there were still another 560 children who did not have the voice of a CASA.
More advocates are needed and trainings are held throughout the year.
If individuals would like to make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child in their community, visit www.casacentex.org.