Clergy, CASA & Community Growth Made Possible by Blue Bell Creameries

Texas CASA’s Clergy, CASA & Community (CCC) initiative seeks to build a network of faith communities and leaders who will commit to speaking up for children in foster care and their families. The initiative began in 2021 with three pilot programs. Thanks to the support of Blue Bell Creameries, Texas CASA has been able to add 10 new CASA programs to the initiative each year for the past two years, now totaling 23 CASA programs all across the state! These 23 programs are working diligently on the CCC initiative and have engaged close to 200 religious groups as of July 2023. 

Through the CCC initiative, Texas CASA has developed a program-to-program mentorship where local CASA programs who are experienced with faith-based engagement will work one-on-one with CASA programs who are new to the initiative. The response has been so favorable to this peer-to-peer mentoring that we plan to continue this as we onboard new programs annually. Furthermore, a critical piece to the success of Clergy, CASA & Community is the work of the Faith Outreach Teams. All 23 programs of the CCC initiative have developed some form of a Faith Outreach Team which includes CASA volunteers, community leaders and clergy. The mission of these teams is to serve as ambassadors and help to open doors for building sustainable partnerships with the faith community.  

Participating CASA programs are seeing the fruits of developing partnerships with faith-based groups. Partnering religious groups and community organizations are now doing everything from hosting foster parent support groups to providing resources for families. Dallas CASA’s Manager, Volunteer Recruitment & Outreach, Jennie Sullivan, LMSW, LCPAA, offered us her perspective: 

Dallas CASA was one of the first pilot programs for Clergy, CASA and Community. After doing this for several years, we have learned success cannot always be measured on our timeline or with our metrics. A recent example of long-term success is a partnership we’ve formed with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and Foster Advocacy, Training & Education (FATE), a group associated with ICNA. We met with them a few times about ways they could help support children in care. They invited our staff to tour their mosque where we observed the midday prayers and followed with a question and answer session. We shared in advance with staff information about modest dress, head coverings and removing shoes in the mosque. As one volunteer supervisor said after the tour, “I feel so much more equipped to help advocate for a CASA kid of the Muslim faith after going to this event.”  

We’ve continued to nurture the relationship. ICNA and FATE recently donated an assortment of hijabs and prayer mats that we keep in our resource closet for Muslim children who are in care. Two Muslim children came into care last month and our volunteer was able to offer prayers mats to both children. We have asked one of ICNA’s representatives to speak at our fall continuing education summit to provide education for volunteers serving Muslim children. And now that the partnership is well-established and trust is formed, we are getting more Muslim volunteers. We recently featured Ishfaq on our blog speaking openly about his faith. This success with Dallas’ Islamic community was built over years with much back and forth, but it has blossomed into Dallas CASA being better able to support Muslim children and having a more diverse volunteer base. 

Community support helps Texas CASA support communities. We are deeply grateful for Blue Bell’s help in expanding and innovating Clergy, CASA & Community and for the CASA programs and their Faith Outreach Teams in making this initiative thrive.

If you would like to support the work of Texas CASA, such as the CCC initiative, visit our website to make a donation today.