The Promising Practices Spotlight highlights a successful, replicable practice that exemplifies creativity in a program’s pursuit to provide quality advocacy. Texas CASA CFE Director Candice Dosman accepted the award at the Awards of Excellence Gala during the National CASA/GAL Conference on the evening of Monday, June 3.
More than 1,000 people attended the conference, and CASA/GAL program representatives from all across the nation got the chance to learn more about Texas CASA, CFE and our collaboration with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). In her acceptance remarks, Dosman thanked National CASA/GAL for the honor and explained the CFE approach and its growth over the past four years of its implementation.
“Our favorite saying about CFE is that ‘it’s not business as usual.’ Together, we are not only changing the way CASA advocates for children and their families, we are shifting the child welfare system as a whole,” said Dosman in her remarks. “Studies show that one of the strongest indicators of child well-being is the number of committed adults in their life, and we believe that CFE is the solution to more connections for children.”
CFE began in 2015 as a family finding and engagement partnership between CASA and DFPS, and has since grown and dramatically reshaped how CASA and Child Protective Services (CPS) collaborate with each other, and with the children and families we serve. Now in its fourth year, CFE has expanded from three local CASA programs in year 1 to 31 local CASA programs serving 48 counties – representing about 44 percent of the statewide CASA network. To date, there have been more than 100 unique CFE trainings for more than 2,800 local CASA and CPS staff.
It’s been an award-winning year for the CFE team! In addition to the Promising Practices Spotlight Award, CFE Coaches Anna McDonnell and Catherine Dooley were recognized by CPS back in March for their dedication to CFE and family meetings. The team is grateful for the statewide and national attention CFE has garnered, but more than anything, they are thankful for the CASA staff, volunteers and CPS who are investing in the work on the local level.
“This Promising Practices award isn’t for Texas CASA, it’s for all of us. Nothing we’ve accomplished so far, and nothing we hope to do in the future, is possible without the amazing dedication and support of the CASA programs and CPS who are involved in CFE,” Dosman said. “We may have accepted the award, but they are the ones who are showing CFE as a promising practice each and every day with the children and families they serve.”
As part of the requirements for CFE to be considered for the award, Texas CASA and CPS leadership submitted letters of support for National CASA/GAL’s consideration. In her letter, Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs dove into CFE’s innovative approach, and the ways it has already began to shift the system towards improved collaboration and outcomes for children and families.
“Texas CASA and those involved with CFE are creating a new path, clearing obstacles and laying the foundation,” said Spriggs. “It will take time. It will be hard. It will be worth it, because the children and families we serve are worth it and deserve every opportunity to remain a family.”
Associate Commissioner of CPS Kristene Blackstone emphasized increased collaboration and sharing of the workload between CASA and CPS due to CFE in her letter. She also recognized that it has encouraged both agencies to consider all kinds of connections and how they can benefit a child and their family – not just those who might be able to provide a placement.
“Due to CFE improving well-being, placement and permanency outcomes for children in substitute care by increasing family and community supports for the child and family between Texas CASA and CPS, CFE should be honored with the National CASA Association Promising Practices Spotlight Award,” Blackstone said.
Texas CASA plans to expand CFE into 10 more local CASA programs and their local CPS in the next year, which would mean the practice would be implemented in 57 percent of the statewide CASA network. And we won’t be slowing down anytime soon – Dosman and her team are on target to implement CFE in the full CASA network by 2023!
Thank you to each and every member of the CASA network and our CPS partners for your support, collaboration and investment in CFE! Together, we are blazing a new trail for better advocacy and a brighter future for children and families in Texas.
If you are interested in learning more about CFE or would like to bring it to your CASA program, contact the CFE team at [email]CFEteam@texascasa.org[/email].