AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In Texas, there are almost 32,000 children in foster care waiting for a safe, permanent place to call home. Many of them are languishing in long-term foster care – these children are in a dire situation, facing the possibility of aging out of the system at just 18 years old without a support system or services they need to become successful members of the community. In observance of May as National Foster Care Month, Texas CASA is urging the community to learn how they can serve as a foster child’s lifeline to a happy and successful future by becoming a CASA volunteer.
“We are facing a crisis that is not only affecting our most vulnerable youth, but amounts to significant social costs for our communities and our state,” said Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO. “All children need a strong adult presence in their lives, if they are to have a bright future. A CASA volunteer can provide this stable support, and the involvement of a CASA volunteer is proven to improve a child’s outcome.”
Children in long-term foster care are those who have been permanently removed from their homes and have seen their parents’ rights terminated. They are typically moved from placement to placement — in some cases more than 10 times. With each placement change comes new caregivers, caseworkers, therapists and educators.
CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to speak on behalf of a child’s best interests and to provide a consistent adult presence in a child’s life during their time in the system. Additionally, Texas CASA and a select group of local CASA programs are testing and implementing new, innovative strategies to increase and improve advocacy for children and youth in long-term foster care.
“We are seeing children growing up in the foster care system with the state acting as their parent for years, and this is unacceptable,” said Spriggs. “Children need a safe, permanent home to thrive, and by testing new strategies, we are improving our advocacy for a group of children that has suffered for too long.”
Left without a strong support system, a child in long-term care is more likely to face incarceration, homelessness and mental trauma in their later years. By the age of 19, 50 percent of girls in foster care will become pregnant. A beacon of hope for these children is the intervention of a CASA volunteer.
CASA volunteers work to provide lifelong, sustainable and natural connections for children in long-term foster care. By helping children to build a network of support, connecting them to services, and maintaining a sense of urgency for finding a forever home, CASA volunteers work to improve outcomes for Texas’ most vulnerable children, even after they have left foster care.
How to Help
To learn how you can help children in long-term foster care in your community, find your local CASA program at BecomeACASA.org. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older and willing to commit to at least one year of advocacy.
About Texas CASA
Austin-based Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is the statewide organization of 71 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. Often the CASA volunteer is the one constant person in a child’s life while he or she goes through the overburdened system. CASA volunteers work to move the children through foster care and into safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.