CASA Deep Dive: Legislative Priority – Increased Annual Legislative Funding
To keep you informed and inspired during the 86th Legislative Session, Texas CASA is taking the next few months to dive in to some of our key legislative priorities. Read more about our legislative priorities and our work leading up to, and during, the session.
Texas CASA Legislative Priority
Request an increase in annual legislative funding under the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) by $2.25 million, in addition to the current annual funding level of $13.2 million, to $15.445 million.
Texas CASA and the 72 local CASA programs across Texas are essential partners with the state of Texas and the Texas Legislature in supporting and advocating for children and youth in the child protection system. The Legislature directly appropriates funding to support the 72 CASA programs across the state. Legislative appropriations to CASA are highly leveraged investments in the well-being of children in care. In addition, The Texas Family Code defines in statute the involvement of a CASA in the court process.
Since Texas CASA was established in 1989, it has served as a statewide hub for the local programs in the state, distributing appropriated dollars to the programs through formulas and competitive grants. During the current two-year budget period, $13.2 million per year is directed to Texas CASA, through appropriations to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Prior to 2015, funding flowed through the Texas Office of the Attorney General.
This legislative session, Texas CASA is requesting an increase in annual funding of $2.25 million, up to $15.45 million annually, as part of our Legislative Priorities for the 86th Legislature. The CASA network is large and continues to grow, and the Legislature supports our partnership as a cost-efficient way to support children in care and assure that their best interests are served.
Why the proposed increase in funding?
In Fiscal Year 2018 (Sept. 1, 2017-Aug. 31, 2018), CASA programs statewide utilized 10,856 volunteers to serve 30,136 children and youth in foster care. Although there has been some volatility in network growth, since 2016, the CASA network has averaged an 8.7-percent growth rate annually in the number of volunteers, and a 5.2-percent growth in children served. A primary goal of our network is to grow to serve all children in state care with a CASA volunteer, and with more than 50,000 children currently in care, we still have a long way to go.
CASA’s requested funding is intended to assure that local CASA programs can support the costs related to continued quality growth – training and overseeing additional volunteers and serving additional children. The vast majority of state funds, around 87 percent, are used to pay for salaries and benefits of volunteer supervisors and other local CASA program staff. The remaining allocated funding covers costs for local CASA programs’ direct operating expenses, primarily rent or office space and utilities and insurance.
Why is CASA a good investment?
Each year, CASA volunteers in Texas contribute more than 1.2 million hours of volunteer time that can be conservatively valued at more than $30 million. In addition, every appropriated state dollar leverages more than three dollars in private philanthropic support and other local funds. This leveraging of state funds through volunteer service and philanthropic funding means that Texas receives a high return on its investment in CASA.
CASA is proud to partner with state leaders and the Legislature to efficiently offer essential advocacy and support for child victims of abuse and neglect. We envision a safe, positive future for all Texas children. By continuing to collaborate with lawmakers and stakeholders and maintaining our dedication to quality volunteer advocacy and growth, we believe we can make this vision a reality.
What can I do to help?
Join our movement! If you’re not yet involved with CASA, consider taking the first step towards becoming a CASA volunteer, or making a donation to support our work.
If you are specifically interested in legislative advocacy and supporting CASA’s legislative priorities, consider joining your CASA program’s Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT). If your program does not have a LAT and you would like more information on starting one, contact Texas CASA Legislative Advocacy Coordinator Ann Strauser Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please let your legislators know what a valuable investment this is, and ask them to support the requested increase in funding for CASA during the 2019 Legislative Session!
If you have any questions or would like more information on this or any of our legislative priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session, contact the Public Policy team at email@example.com.