Clergy, CASA & Community: Working with the DFPS Faith-Based Team

We are excited about all that we are learning through the progress of our faith-based volunteer recruitment initiative Clergy, CASA and Community, and are committed to giving our network the most up-to-date info on our discovery process. This is the first in a new series of articles that are intended to answer your FAQs about partnering with the faith community in your area.

This article is focused on the DFPS Faith-Based Team led by Felicia Mason Edwards. DFPS currently has 14 regional faith-based specialists around the state – there is at least one specialist serving each DFPS region, with some that have two. They are focused on partnering with the faith community to bring awareness to child welfare issues and to recruit foster families. DFPS has been developing a network for several years, and leveraging these contacts can be beneficial to CASA recruitment. Download a list of CASA programs with their corresponding faith-based representative .

In August, Texas CASA hosted the DFPS Faith-Based Team for a meeting, and both DFPS and the CASA programs that attended talked about the importance of working together to increase awareness and educate the faith community about the foster care system. We asked Sandy Moody from CASA of El Paso and Michelle Cobern from CASA of Titus, Camp, and Morris Counties for their perspective on working alongside DFPS to recruit CASA volunteers.

How do you communicate with your DFPS Regional Faith-Based Specialist?

  • Sandy: Maritza, who is the Region 10 Faith-Based Specialist, emails me regularly. We have also developed a friendship and she texts frequently to update as well. She invites me to Clergy and the Court quarterly to speak about the role of CASA.
  • Michelle: I communicate with Tanya at least once a week either by phone, text, or email. She and I have developed open lines of communication.

Give some examples of how your partnership works.

  • Michelle: I have invited Tanya to our non-profit roundtable meetings in Mt. Pleasant. She has also come to our volunteer training to share more about DFPS’s faith-based initiative. We are both focused on providing the best service and care for system involved children in our area, so we need to work together.
  • Sandy: Maritza and I have attended many church services together. Anytime she invites me to a church event, I try to attend. Most of them are on Sundays, during sermon time. It gives me the opportunity to express to church attendees how easy it is for us to work together and to express that CASA is a great way to help even if parishioners cannot commit to foster care.

What advice do you have for other CASA or DFPS staff looking to partner together to reach the faith community? 

  • Sandy: Communicate regularly and do outreach together. When I get invited to events, I really try to work it into my schedule. It’s convenient for me since CPS has made the contact, and the clergy are already interested in the concept.
  • Michelle: Make sure you have regular planning meetings. Be willing to discuss your success and failures. Also, it’s important that you don’t become discouraged if one faith community says “no.” Not all churches/pastors will welcome your program (that is okay because this is a partnership and not a project).

To learn more about how to become involved with the Clergy, CASA, and Community initiative or to get more info about the DFPS Faith-Based Specialists, please contact Texas CASA faith-based recruitment consultant Keri McDonald at [email][/email].

Read the other Clergy, CASA and Community articles.