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April 20, 2011

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April 20, 2011

As a teacher of students with special needs, I've worked with may students who literally cannot speak for themselves. And, unfortunately, a disproportionate number of my students (and of all students with special needs) have been removed from their parents' custody and placed in the foster care system.

Before I learned about CASA, I would constantly ask myself, "Who is speaking up for these kids?"

Now I know the answer to my question! CASA!

CASA of Central Texas recruits, trains, and supports amazing individuals who generously give of their time and energy to make sure that all kids have a voice in court, and that each child's concerns and best interest are both presented to and respected by the people and systems involved in his or her case.

As a board member, I have learned much more about the day-to-day functions of the CASA staff and volunteers. There are so many dedicated people in this organization, and we are especially fortunate to have incredibly talented leadership, enabling the program to set and achieve goals for increasing the number of children served.

Clearly, CASA of Central Texas is among the most respected, nonprofit volunteer organizations serving children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Hays counties. From state representatives to local businesses to school teachers, CASA's reputation is widely known and well deserved because of the amazing, caring, and talented volunteers and staff who make all the great work possible!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my community! I know that the children in the schools where I work have a powerful voice in CASA should they ever need it. CASA advocates individually, locally, and nationally to help bring all children into safe, permanent families, and CASA of Central Texas clearly extends this mission to the children of this four-county area.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

help CASA increase its recruitment of volunteers - particularly advocates - but also others who may want to participate as board members, office support, advocate support, and in other ways.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

I initially heard about CASA through a public service announcement on public radio.

What is its top priority in the long run?

to increase the percentage children in the foster care system who are served by CASA by increasing the number of trained advocates in our area.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

April 17, 2011

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April 17, 2011

My experience as a CASA Advocate has been rewarding. Being able to offer information to the children's school staff when they are moved from one school to another can help the children I serve have a better opportunity to succeed in school. I am a advocate for the children I serve and share this information with the judge.
When we go to court, the girls I serve, know they can depend on me to be there for them and to bring them some treats and things to do as we wait.
My CASA supervisor is so knowlegable and helpful when my case may take some challenging turns. She offers me good advice and is always supportive and appreciative of my work as a CASA. Being a CASA is rewarding and a good way to give back to my community.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing how helpful the CASA supervisors are. They are knowlegable and very available to offer suggestions and help.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Offer more opportunities for staff development, books to read and movies to see that are pertinent.

April 15, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

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April 15, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

I joined CASA of Central Texas in 2006. Shortly after completing a well designed training program taught by A CASA staff member who also is a volunteer advocate, as is the case with most of the staff, and many of the members of the board of directors.
I was offered a case. Seven
children, ages 3 to 17 were removed from their mother. For some of the older one, it was the fourth time to be removed for abuse and neglect. They had two older sisters who were "aged out" - no longer under the protection of the State.
There were 6 biological "fathers", 4 of whom were in state prison. My supervisor told me that they would assign another advocate to help me because these children were scattered out. It's virtually impossible to find a qualified home that will take that many siblings. After reading the affidavit, I told her that these children needed one person that knew and worked with all of them.
Visiting each of them a minimum of once a month, advocating for them with their schools, foster homes, court and the Department of Family & Protective Services, and assisting in gathering them together regularly for visits kept me busy. It also blessed me beyond description. My rather bazaar career choices, teacher, peace officer, and school counselor, along with being part of the Kairos Prison Ministry gave me unique experiences that would allow me to serve these children in special ways. Clearly God was gently leading me toward this role.
Long hours on the road, heavy gas bills, aggravation with some of the adults in their lives, having to over come an understandable ingrained distrust of adults from the children made this a daunting task. Being able to have a part in protecting these wonderful, rambunctious kids makes those "problems" pale.
I still have one left, the only boy. He will "age our" in a few months. Three of the girls were adopted by their original foster mother. Three have aged out, and the youngest was adopted by a family member. Two of them ran away from their placements several times, at time staying gone for months at a time. They would occasionally call or text me to let me know how (but not where) they were. Last Fathers Day, I received a "HAPPY FATHERS DAY JIMBO!!" from the boy who was on runaway status at the time. Jimbo is my chosen name.
I'm convinced that every time a court appoints a CASA to a child, God smiles. I've learned that "I love you Jimbo" from a child that can't say that to a parent is more beautiful than any symphony I've ever heard.
This program is crucial to children whose parents can't or won't care for them, love them or protect them. There are not enough of us, there is not enough funding to increase the wonder staff that is crucial for our support, for recruiting new volunteers, and training them.
I hope you can find it in your hearts to help us continue advocating for these precious children, and recruit and support more volunteers.


The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing children gain a chance to have a better life, and break the cycle of abuse and neglect - one child at a time.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make it grow many fold.

April 15, 2011

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April 15, 2011

I was a CASA volunteer in Missouri for over six years and have recently joined as a volunteer advocate for CASA of Central Texas. It is truly amazing what CASA does on behalf of abused and neglected children all across the US. In general, the case workers at the departments that handle child protective services for each state carry very heavy case loads that prevent them for focusing on individual cases to truly advocate in the best interests of individual children who are removed from their homes. As a volunteer, I am able to zero in on specific needs of a child (or children) and make meaningful recommendations to the court on what will best protect the child. While our hope is for reunification with the parents of a child, our primary goal is insure the child is able to return to a permanent, stable, safe and nurturing home as quickly as possible. I particularly appreciate CASA of Central Texas because permanancy within 12-18 months is a goal that is supported by Texas Child Protective Services, and the courts.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I am currently in training to learn the specific policies and procedures for CASA of Central Texas, and very much respect the level of training that is required - as it should be considering the responsibilties that we have as volunteer advocates. CASA of Central Texas is striving to serve 100% of the children in our communities.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I do not know of any changes I would make at this point. Oh, I can think of only one --- because they use the training manuals over again, we are not allowed to write in them. This has taken great restraint for a doodler like me!

April 15, 2011

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April 15, 2011

We had CASA volunteers for almost 2yrs, and I have to say they were the most wonderful people we have even encountered. They always had answers for us they were always supportive. They were always available to us when no one else was. They even helped us finacially when we needed help. We were so very blessed to have them as a part of our lives.
Ms Linda was wonderful she taught our girls how crochet , took them out on dessert and lunch dates, and Ms Carolyn she was our "pusher" when we were getting ready for adoption and she knew our time was limited she made calls and pushed everyone along.
We are very greatful for all the help and support CASA has give us.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I was able to always get answers and helped when needed.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I am sure there always changes and improvements that any organization could use. In my opinion I believe the are great as is..

April 15, 2011

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April 15, 2011

CASA of Central Texas is a high impact organization that trains community volunteers to become court-appointed advocates for children in the foster care system. The volunteers are assigned one child or set of siblings at a time and can therefore devote the time and attention that the children and their needs deserve. These dedicated volunteers truly make a difference in children's lives by helping to get them the services they need to heal from abuse or neglect, helping to find permanent and caring families for these children, and by just being there to listen if the child needs someone to talk to.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

observing the work they do in the courtroom and the community.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

recruit more volunteers!

April 15, 2011

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April 15, 2011

I reluctantly joined my husband after he volunteered for CASA (Court Appointed State Advocate), but I soon became enthusuastic. Many children are abused, taken from their parents, and often move from one foster home to the next until they become 18 years old.
Can you imagine trying to mature
and to trust appropriately if your life was like that?
The CASA volunteer works with the child until he/she is returned to the natural parent(s), or is permanently placed with foster or adoptive parents, OR until the child becomes 18 years old and is no longer under the care of Child Protective Services.
My heart was won over by our first appointment--a baby boy. His parents were still teenagers. Luckily, both had very supportive parents willing to house the teens while they worked very hard to mature and regain permanent custody of their baby. One of the grandmothers was appointed temporary custody, so the mother was
able to stay with her baby until the case was closed.
I was hooked! So will you, if you get involved as a volunteer or a donor.. Try it, you'll like it! Ann Haynes Tubbs






The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

watching children in the courtroom either returned to their natural parents or permanently adopted. I personally have gained much fullfillment from working with the children who have achieved a permanent home. I also enjoy the continuing education, which is required of all volunteers. It gives me a chance to also meet other volunteers and to learn from their ecperiences.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

hope for more volunteers and more funding of the organization in order that more children could be served/

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

A "shadow" experience before assuming a case. This would allow inexperienced volunteers to learn fom more experienced volunteers.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Since I had a PhD in Communication Science and Human Development and taught in Rehabilitation Psycholgy setting, I came to CASA with some skills that I enjoyed using in a new way. The new skill that I am still learning is courtroom communication and the vauious legal stages of permanent placement.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

I feel I am using my skills in a useful manner for an important need. This is a very fulling way to use my time during my retirement.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

April 14, 2011

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April 14, 2011

CASA is a national network which recruits, trains and supports volunteers who are appoimnted by judges to watch over and advocate to the court for individual abused or neglected children who come before the court. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have had the impression that the families with whom my wife and I have worked as CASA volunteers have been encouraged, through our involvement and relationship, to have faith that a just ending was likely, and have thus been more patient with and able to derive more benefit from the judicial process. I have also felt confident that the Family Court Judge and the involved attorneys have found our contributions truly valuable.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

It appears to me that CASA would serve better if it could serve a larger number of clients, and that the limiting factor is not volunteers but the financial ability to provide sufficient staff to train and support and guide the volunteers. The staff is excellent, new volunteers appear and are well trained and supported, but with more staff we could grow in ability to serve more of the public.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Rather detailed documetation of specific volunteer services is necessary and onerous. I suspect the process could be made more user-friendly.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I am a retired family physician, and have "seen a lot" over the years. Despite this background, this experience has been a growth experience. Not only have I had the sense that I have contributed something of value, but also I have developed a much greater appreciation of the state Department of Family and Protective Services and equally of the Family Court System and of the attorneys involved. I very much appreciate the people who donate money and effort to support this organization. My wife and I participate as a team. This is somewhat unusual in CASA, but we have found that it enables us to serve in ways we could not serve as individuals.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Proud to be of service, but also more aware of the reality that a great number of families are truly challenged in their abilities to care appropriately for their children.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

April 14, 2011

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April 14, 2011

It has been a year to date that I received my first case. It involved two children, one of which was later diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The children were removed owing to an issue of abandonment, the mother had left the children with an unreliable person while she indulged her habit.
When I first met the children, I feel in love with them. The youngest was very loving and as cute as they get. The older sibling was a bright, well spoken youngster who had been the primary caregiver to the younger child.
Although the younger one had difficulty in communicating, he was a 3 y/o with the cognitive skills of a 9 - 10 month old, and what he lacked in language, he made up for in laughter and love.
Both children were placed in a placement facility where the younger sibling received physical, speech and play therapy and a huge transition occurred, his vocabulary increased and he became more sociable and his tantrums decreased significantly.
The older child was confused as to why he was where he was and wanted to be reunited with his Mommy. The father was incarcerated.
After establishing a rapport with the children, I met with the Mother and began to assist her. She had found stable work and a place to live. She was remorseful over her past and wanted to be reunited with her children.
Although it was a long bumpy ride, filled with tears, frustration, joy and sorrow, the children were finally reunited with their parents this past week.
I am confident that with some help from agencies specializing in children with special needs, they will be fine.
I feel good about having played a role in bringing this to a happy ending!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have either been a party to or have listened to the other stories of volunteers of this organization and am proud to be a part of what CASA does for the children.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I can't think of anything that I would change, but feel that it should be a part of everyone's life to see what this organization does!

April 14, 2011

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April 14, 2011

One of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had was working as a court appointed special advocate. It was an opportunity to interact with a child who was going through some very difficult family situations and make sure that his best interests were always served, as his case was moved through Child Protective Services and the court system. As the eyes and ears of the judge I was able to relate to the court, the child's progress or lack of it. The judge usually sided with my observations. I believe I was able to really make a difference in the life of my child.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen the importance of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). As a child moves through the Child Protective Services, case workers have tremendous case loads. They are unable to give personal attention to each child. Since the CASA advocates for the individual child, he or she does not get lost or caught up in the system. CASA makes a real difference in each child served.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

This organization is well run. The training and continuing education opportunities are are many and varied. The staff is always available to support the CASA volunteer.

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