During this holiday and giving season I want you to know how deeply grateful everyone at Texas CASA is for your steadfast support. You inspire us to achieve great things. I am excited to share some of our achievements in 2023 and assure you that we plan to keep the CASA momentum going for our 35th Anniversary in 2024.
This year, we expanded our impact for children and families through our policy advocacy and by engaging decision makers. Last March, 280 members of the CASA network from 48 local CASA programs showed up and spoke up at our CASA Day at the Capitol and participated in 145 meetings with legislative offices.
Family engagement took center stage this year with our CFE Symposium: CFE for All. CFE is Texas’ team-based approach between local CASA programs and DFPS, Community-Based Care contractors and other child welfare professionals. The team engages, finds and works with family members and fictive kin to create and develop a lifetime network of support for young people in the foster care system.
In partnership with Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Texas CASA released the 0-5 Advocacy Guide, Little People. Big Impact. In the state of Texas, approximately 47% of children in foster care are ages zero to five. This is the largest population that most CASA programs in Texas serve. It is vital for Texas CASA to provide the tools and resources to local CASA programs and their volunteers to understand the challenges and needs of this vulnerable population.
An essential role of being a CASA volunteer is monitoring the safety of the children served. 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.
And most recently, the CASA network expanded to 74 local CASA programs! We are excited about the addition of CASA of Milam County which brings the statewide network to 220 Texas counties served.
Because of your support, we are able to move forward to help 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. We need your help to get there.
Thank you for all that you do and for your commitment to a safe, positive future for all Texas children. You make our success possible, and I am deeply grateful for your commitment to our work and mission. On behalf of everyone at Texas CASA, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.