Answering the Call: How Faith Communities Can Make a Difference in the Lives of Foster Children

By Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO, for the Longview News-Journal
Published May 15, 2021

When Winter Storm Uri hit Texas this February with unprecedented freezing weather and widespread power outages, people of faith were some of the first to respond.

They were on the front lines of disaster relief efforts, distributing food, water and emergency supplies and offering warming shelters in churches. These people weren’t working in any official capacity or being paid for their efforts. They simply felt compelled to help their fellow Texans during a devastating time.

Faith communities are among the strongest and most vital links to creating a healthy world for children and families. That’s why CASA programs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, want to partner with these communities to provide support for some of our state’s most vulnerable residents — children in foster care who need caring volunteers to advocate for them during their journey through the child welfare system.

There are more than 10,000 CASA volunteers in Texas already, but we need to double our numbers to serve all the children who need an advocate. Texas has more than 27,000 houses of worship, encompassing a multitude of religions and spiritual traditions. If each faith community took up the challenge, we could transform the world for children in foster care and create healing for families.

Children in foster care experience mental illness at a rate almost 30% greater than the average population of children but are less likely to receive the mental health treatment they need. Given these facts, it’s no surprise that these children suffer negative effects like learning difficulties and behavioral problems at a much higher rate as well.

But research shows that children who have been traumatized are better able to handle their experiences when they are supported and uplifted by adults who care about them. CASA volunteers get to know a child or sibling group in foster care, visit them monthly, communicate with their family and foster family, advocate for their educational and medical needs, and make recommendations to the judge on their case.

“Clergy, CASA and Community” is an effort by Texas CASA to build a network of faith communities and leaders that will champion local children in foster care. Our goal is to bring people together to be a voice for the children who need them. With extensive training, strong infrastructure and ongoing support and training for advocates, CASA gives people of faith an opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of these children — and in the world.

The needs of children in foster care are staggering, but there are solutions and meaningful actions. If your faith community adopts foster care or the work of CASA as one of its causes, you can make a big impact in your own backyard.

As Texans, we take pride in our dedication to faith and family. We can be united in our commitment to caring for the vulnerable and protecting children and families during times of crisis. Through volunteering with CASA, you can honor this commitment and fulfill your calling.

To learn more about how you and the other members of your faith community can support foster children in your community, please reach out to East Texas CASA in Longview or to We look forward to joining with you in service to those who need us most.

You can also read and share this op-ed on the Longview News-Journal.