Texas CASA and CPS Form Collaboration to Find Family Connections for Foster Children, Expediting the Location of Permanent Homes

Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) Initiative Expands Across
Texas with Assistance from Youth Permanency Expert

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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,” 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.

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GDC Marketing & Ideation
Marcie Casas, 210-236-5000
Relations Director
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

Leslie Morton,
Training & Communications Director