Stories of Change in Action: Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Learn how legislative and policy issues translate to real-life, positive change for Texans.

Meet Carlos and JoJo!*

Carlos was appointed as 10-year-old JoJo’s CASA volunteer after JoJo was removed from home during his parents’ struggle with substance use.

A lot is uncertain right now for JoJo. He misses his family and his home. Thankfully, his foster family lives in his home community, so he did not have to transfer to a new school like many youth in foster care do. This gives him consistency and helps him maintain caring relationships during this difficult time.

Change in Action:
In 2017, Texas CASA supported SB 11, a far-reaching CPS reform bill that marked the beginning of Texas’ ongoing transition to Community-Based Care (CBC). CBC shifts responsibility for foster care placement, case management and services from the state of Texas to local private, nonprofit contractors—with the goal of increasing foster care capacity and keeping children like JoJo closer to their homes, geographically.

JoJo joined the school soccer team! He is happy that he gets to spend more time with his friends, outside of class. Soccer is helping him stay physically healthy—and it’s fun, too, so he feels much less sad after he has practice! His CASA volunteer Carlos comes to his games, and supports his parents to come, too.

Change in Action:
In 2015, Texas CASA championed SB 1407, a bill that shifted decision-making authority for age-appropriate normalcy activities from the child’s caseworker to their caregiver. Caregivers can now approve a child’s participation in a range of activities—from soccer to sleepovers—without having to first get approval from the caseworker.

JoJo’s parents love him and want him to come home. They have been participating in their service plan, they’re visiting JoJo regularly and they’ve stayed drug-free.

CASA volunteer Carlos and others involved in the case invite JoJo’s parents, family and friends to a big meeting to make a plan for bringing JoJo home safely. JoJo’s parents are now surrounded by a committed support network who believes in them. The team will support them in maintaining sobriety and in other ways so that they may be reunited with their son.

Change in Action:
With funding from the Texas Legislature beginning in 2015, Texas CASA created Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE), a trailblazing family finding and engagement partnership with DFPS that connects children and their parents with lifetime networks of family and friends. These networks commit to supporting families both during and after their time involved with foster care.

JoJo is home! His parents have completed their services and demonstrated that they can provide a safe, healthy environment for him. With a committed support network of family and friends, JoJo will now have the opportunity to grow up in his own family, be loved and become his best self.

Change in Action:
So far, the Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) approach is reaching families like JoJo’s in more than 100 of Texas’ 254 counties. With continued support from the Texas Legislature and our partners at DFPS, we are on track to implement the approach statewide by 2023.

*These are fictional stories based on real-life situations for Texas children, families and CASA volunteers. Illustrations by Alexander T. Lee, LLC.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3