Stories of Change in Action: Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Learn how legislative and policy issues translate to real-life, positive change for Texans.

Meet Ava and Lydia!*

Meet Ava and Lydia. Ava has been in long-term foster care since she was a little girl, and has moved through many foster families and other placements. She lives in a Residential Treatment Center now. She was 16 when Lydia was appointed as her CASA volunteer.

Ava dreams of going to college to study music—but she doesn’t know where to start. Lydia commits to helping her through the college application process and connecting her with supportive people so that she can make her dream a reality.

Change in Action:
Updated in 2018, Texas CASA’s Educational Advocacy Guidebook equips CASA volunteers to help ensure a quality education for children of all ages and abilities. The Guidebook goes into resources, key deadlines, financial aid opportunities and more to help CASA volunteers guide youth like Ava towards post-secondary education and success.

Ava will age out of the foster care system when she turns 18. To ensure she’s ready for life on her own, she is attending Preparation for Adult Living classes. Her CASA volunteer, Lydia, is also providing guidance on life skills, answering her burning questions and ensuring she has supportive and lasting adult connections.

For Ava, thinking about life after foster care can be intimidating, but also exciting. She’ll get to try so many new things. She’s glad that she has Lydia and other people she can count on.

Change in Action:
In 2019, Texas CASA supported HB 53, which adds topics to be covered in the DFPS Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program, including insurance, taxes and voting. Improving and expanding the PAL program helps ensure youth like Ava get the age-appropriate information and training they need to be able to effectively navigate life after foster care.

Ava, like many youth in foster care, has specialized healthcare needs. In addition to making sure she keeps her Medicaid health coverage when she turns 18, Ava’s CASA volunteer, Lydia, is setting her up for a healthy adulthood by helping to connect her with support and services like counseling and an OB-GYN. This will empower Ava to take ownership of her own healthcare.

Change in Action:
In 2020, Texas CASA released a comprehensive Health Advocacy Guide. This Guide equips CASA volunteers and other advocates to work with youth of all ages, abilities and circumstances, as well as their caregivers, to ensure they’re getting the healthcare they need and deserve.

Ava graduated from high school today! She’s been accepted to college to study music. She’s well on her way to achieving her dreams and the future full of possibilities she deserves.

At college, Ava will have a special liaison trained to help students like her who have been in foster care.

Change in Action:
In 2019, Texas CASA championed HB 1702, which strengthens on-campus support for students like Ava who are attending college. It requires colleges to publicize the contact information of their foster care liaisons, equip liaisons with a list of current students who’ve experienced foster care, and inform these students of available support services on campus.

*These are fictional stories based on real-life situations for Texas children, families and CASA volunteers. Illustrations by Alexander T. Lee, LLC.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3