Texas CASA is a leader in working to assure sound public policies in Texas on issues affecting the child welfare system, the well-being of children and youth in state custody and other policy areas related to our mission.
Along with the local CASA programs and their volunteers, Texas CASA engages in a variety of efforts to study, develop and change public policies. Additionally, Texas CASA staff members conduct research, collaborate with other advocacy and stakeholder groups, lead special task forces and engage in other processes to develop and impact policy.
Current examples of Texas CASA’s public policy endeavors include:
- Leading the Texas CASA Mental Health Task Force,
- Contributing to the Texas Sunset Commission’s review of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and
- Participating in the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families (Children’s Commission).
85th Legislative Session
The regular 85th Texas Legislative Session ended May 29, 2017. During the session, lawmakers worked hard to improve the state’s child welfare system, adopting several bills focused on young Texans in foster care. While there is still more work to be done to ensure kids in the state’s care receive the support and services they need to thrive, a solid foundation has been set for improved outcomes for children and youth. We hope to build on these successes moving forward.
Texas CASA has compiled important information and resources to help CASA program staff, volunteer advocates, and other interested parties understand these recent legislative changes and their impact on CASA. All of these resources and more can be accessed through our 85th Session Legislative Outcomes page.
84th Legislative Session
During the 84th Legislative Session, Texas CASA championed several bills as part of our legislative priorities. Texas CASA and the CASA network applauds the work of our legislative champions who advocated for our most vulnerable children and youth, and helped make this a successful session in bringing about change to the child protection system. Visit our 84th Legislature Bill Tracker to see all that we were able to effectively advocate for in order to improve the child welfare system and create more positive outcomes for children in care.
Texas CASA Mental Health Task Force Report
Texas CASA is excited to announce the release of the Texas CASA Mental Health Task Force report: Respecting the Needs of Children and Youth in Texas Foster Care: Acknowledging Trauma and Promoting Positive Mental Health Throughout the System. With the generous support of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Texas CASA convened a group of child welfare experts, stakeholders, advocates and former foster youth to address the variety of mental health issues facing children and youth in the child welfare system. The Task Force was comprised of physical and mental health care practitioners, judges, social workers, psychologists, attorneys and state agency personnel.
Task Force members were charged with:
- Identifying problems facing children and youth in state custody in regards to their mental health,
- Developing actionable solutions (recommendations) that will improve the well-being of children and youth in foster care, and
- Advocating for those solutions.
The Texas CASA Mental Health Task Force report represents the Task Force’s recommendations around three major issue areas identified by Task Force members as the most impactful issues affecting mental health outcomes of children and youth in foster care in Texas:
- Diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues in children and youth in substitute care,
- Empowerment and normalization of youth in substitute care, and
- Appropriate caregiving environments for children and youth in substitute care.
Texas CASA has already utilized the work of the Mental Health Task Force to inform its legislative priorities and will be filing several bills this session in response to the work and research that came out of the report. Please feel free to download the report and share it widely. Be on the lookout for more legislation and work from Texas CASA on these issues soon!
Download the Mental Health Task Force Report and/or read the digital version below.