Texas CASA and the CASA network had the opportunity to honor Texas State Senator Jane Nelson on March 31, 2022. In honor of her almost 30 years in the Texas Senate and her focus on improving the child welfare system in Texas, Senator Nelson received the first-ever Big Voices for Little Texans™ Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award was presented at The Forum, an event that Texas CASA hosted in Dallas, with executive directors for the 72 local CASA programs in Texas. Two of those programs – CASA of Denton County and CASA of Tarrant County – serve children and families who reside in Senator Nelson’s district.
“We are extremely grateful for Senator Nelson’s leadership on child welfare issues over the last 29 years of her career,” said CEO Vicki Spriggs. “Her commitment to the children and families of Texas has been a blessing to the entire state, and her ongoing support for the work of CASA has helped enable our staff and volunteers to do the work they do. The CASA network would not be as strong as it is today without Senator Nelson, and she will be missed greatly.”
The Big Voices for Little Texans™ award is reserved for state leaders in child welfare. As the former Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Senator Nelson championed critical child welfare legislation for the state. During her tenure as Chair, she authored many of the most important pieces of legislation herself. In 2013, she sponsored legislation that required more oversight and consent before putting a child in foster care on psychotropic medications, which dramatically reduced the overmedicating of children and youth in foster care in Texas.
Though she changed leadership roles in 2015 to become the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, she never wavered from her commitment to the children and families of Texas. In 2017, she passed legislation that established the Computers for CASA program, which has allowed dozens of children and youth in foster care to get a free laptop computer, helping with their education and opening up doors for a successful transition to adulthood.
Upon receiving the award, Senator Nelson stated: “I am incredibly grateful to be recognized with this award. More importantly, I am grateful for the important work of Texas CASA, which provides critical support to children who are often confused and frightened as they navigate the court system.”
Thank you, Senator Nelson, for nearly 30 years of transformational leadership for Texas children and families!