Introducing the Texas CASA Volunteer Council

Texas CASA is honored to present the newly developed Volunteer Council that will serve as an advisory group working in collaboration with Texas CASA’s Chief Network Service Officer, Deedra Baker, and Strategic Network Services Director, Dennise Jackson. The idea for the Volunteer Council was developed by Deedra and Dennise in an effort to form a new strategy around volunteer recruitment and retention.  

“In order to reach the goal of being able to serve every child who needs a volunteer we need to go to the people who do this work – talk to the experts and learn from them!” states Dennise Jackson, Texas CASA Strategic Network Services Director. 

Along with giving guidance and recommendations for Texas CASA’s endeavors with statewide recruitment and retention strategy, the Volunteer Council members will also provide input on DEI approach, advocacy best practices, volunteer training and more. For the first meeting the council will be asked to develop three goals for their work on the council and some of the topics that have been proposed are as follows: 

  • Understanding what motivates volunteers to join CASA/stay with CASA 
  • Input on volunteer recruitment creative ads (Clergy CASA & Community, Men of CASA, and general recruitment) 
  • Ideas regarding the Nominate Campaign and/or other word of mouth recruitment efforts 
  • What Minimum Sufficient Level of care means for CASA volunteers and CASA advocacy 
  • DEI and how that shapes our advocacy and CASA recommendations 
  • How to include a child and family’s lived experience as they share power and decisions with families
  • Areas of expertise they could share with other volunteers across the state
  • Identifying training topics and resources
  • Additional topics and areas for input that are proposed by Council members  

The Volunteer Council is comprised of 16 volunteers from the following local programs: Amarillo Area CASA, CASA Hope For Children, CASA of Central Texas, CASA of Collin County, CASA of Denton County, CASA of South Texas, CASA of Tarrant County, CASA of the South Plains, Child Advocates San Antonio, Golden Crescent CASA, and Lone Star CASA. Earlier this year an open invitation was sent out to all CASA program regional representatives to nominate volunteers for the council and a final decision was made in May 2023. Texas CASA considered program size, race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity when selecting the volunteers in order to ensure diversity of the council. The council members will be expected to serve a two-year term, beginning September 1, 2023. Meetings will be held online every month and members will be asked to attend all meetings and work on small projects assigned (while having fun!).  

“There has always been a challenge in Texas to have a CASA for every child experiencing separation from their family while in the foster care system. We have so many great people who do step forward and it truly makes a difference in a child and family’s life,” said Deedra Baker, Texas CASA Chief Network Service Officer. “Right now, the challenges are greater than ever as we continue to experience a capacity crisis, a decades long lawsuit, the roll out of Community-Based Care through privatization of foster care, the lasting impacts of COVID and decreases across our state and nation in volunteerism. A statewide volunteer council brings together volunteers from different programs, different areas of the state, different walks of life and different volunteer experiences to collectively discuss and collaborate on our network’s efforts to bring heart and soul to advocacy on behalf of children, parents and families: volunteers.”  

“Hopefully the info we garner will help the programs feel a sense of relief and give them new ideas for recruitment implementation,” said Dennise.