Texas CASA CFE Team Wraps Up 11-City Training Tour

Texas CASA’s Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) team recently wrapped up a monthlong training tour, teaching CFE tools and principles to hundreds of CASA and CPS representatives from the 11 new CFE sites across Texas.

Based on Kevin Campbell’s Family Finding Model, CFE is Texas’ approach to finding and strengthening positive connections for children in foster care and their families. Studies show that one of the strongest indicators of child well-being is the number of committed adults in their life. CFE is unique in that it is a collaborative approach to search for and engage these adults. It creates a true team between CPS and CASA to do this important work together – this way, they are more united for children and families, and share responsibility and workload.

The CFE team delivered 11 daylong trainings for more than 450 people in the span of a little over one month. The first half of each training day focused on teaching participants how to use the many tools of CFE – tools to search for and engage family members and other important adults in children’s lives.

One of these tools is called Mobility Mapping, which helps people think of positive memories and people in their lives who could provide support for them. Here are the basics: a child or family member draws the first place they remember living on a flip chart. CASA or CPS then asks follow-up questions, such as “Where did you go to school?” and “Who did you live with at that time?”, and they draw those things as well. The process is repeated until the child or family member arrives where they are today.

A training participant in Houston practices Mobility Mapping with Texas CASA CFE Manager Candice Dosman.

Often, Mobility Mapping (and the other CFE tools) will help them remember people, places and positive experiences that they might not have remembered otherwise – leading to family, friends, coaches, teachers and other positive connections that CASA and CPS can pursue and invite back into their lives.

One training participant from CASA said that practicing Mobility Mapping and the other CFE tools was their favorite part of the day, because it gives them firsthand experience on how to use them.

Close-up of a practice Mobility Map from CFE training in Houston.

“The Mobility Map will allow parents and children to tell their story, which is important for helping them feel heard and for gathering important information about the family,” the training participant said. “If everyone is serious about the work, I believe there will be a lot of positive outcomes for children in care as well as their families.”

The second half of the training covered the 4 C’s of CFE:

  • Collaborate: CFE uses teams and greater collaboration between systems to enhance safety and promote child well-being.
  • Cultivate: CFE uses connection and engagement tools to involve families and engage with them in an authentic way.
  • Convene: Family meetings occur throughout the CPS case and are critical to engagement and collaboration.
  • Connect: A lifetime network of supportive relationships is formed for the child and their parents.

“The training was great! I’m really excited to see how CFE impacts our cases in a positive way!” said a participant from CPS. “Staff will feel empowered and motivated to engage and hopefully integrate [CFE] into our practice.”

Now that it’s spreading all across the state, CFE is opening doors in new and exciting ways. In October, in the midst of the training tour, CASA of El Paso, Texas CASA’s CFE team and CPS got the opportunity to meet with the Tigua indigenous tribe to introduce CFE to their social services department. They were invited on the reservation to meet with social workers, counselors and others who provide services to the tribe. CPS staff also spoke about the collaboration and the benefits they have seen with families using CFE. Attendees were engaged and excited to use CFE tools and strategies for children and families.

Texas CASA CFE Coach Nancy Murdoch speaks at the meeting with CASA of El Paso and representatives from the Tigua tribe.

Texas CASA is proud of our hardworking and passionate CFE team, and the now-31 CASA programs that are practicing CFE with their local CPS. We look forward to taking this practice to more and more counties – and creating brighter, more connected futures for more and more Texas children!