Creating a Safe and Positive Future for All Texas Children

By Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and we are highlighting the ways we work to create a safe and positive future for all Texas children, as well as providing small ways you can also play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect.

An essential role of being a CASA volunteer is monitoring the safety of the children served. The State of Texas defines safety as being free from immediate danger. For CASA volunteers, this means a CASA volunteer’s monitoring and communication with the child aims to prevent potential future harm. An area we have specifically developed awareness and intervention resources for is child commercial sexual exploitation or child sex trafficking.

Children in the foster care system are at a higher risk of being exploited, and it is up to all of us to be vigilant and help keep these children safe. This is why Texas CASA developed the CASA Anti-Child Trafficking framework known as CASA ACTs to provide resources, training and coordination of services. Our newest resource, Advocacy for Youth Affected by Sex Trafficking: A Guide for CASA Volunteers & Staff in Texas, is a guidebook for CASA volunteers and staff on best advocacy practices for young people impacted by sex trafficking. This guidebook provides an in depth look at the scope of child sexual exploitation and what CASA volunteers can do to protect the youth they serve. You can review and download the guide from our program portal.

Another area where we are looking to expand our impact for children and families is through our legislative priorities and advocacy at the Capitol. Check out how nearly 300 members of the CASA network showed up and spoke up on CASA Day at the Capitol.

Advocates met with their legislators to share the difference CASA volunteers make and to support our champion bills, House Bill 2794 and Senate Bill 2109. For the majority of programs, CASA volunteers are only appointed to cases after the child has been removed from home. These bills would amend the Texas Family Code to allow CASA programs to use their current state funding to serve on Court-Ordered Services (COS) cases – cases where the child is not formally removed from home and placed in CPS care. Currently, the law limits CASA’s state funding for only cases involving children who are formally in foster care. This prevents CASA from providing critical support to children and families who need help remaining safely together outside of the foster care system. Get more details in our legislative updates.

Together, we are moving forward to create safer communities for Texas children and youth. We are motivated by the vision of a Texas where it is safe for all children to grow up and fulfill their brightest potential.

Thank you for all that you do, and for your commitment to a safe, positive future for all Texas children.