CASA Up Close
CASA of Central Texas advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system by recruiting, training and supporting community volunteers.

     Welcome to another edition of CASA Up Close Monthly. Please feel free to contact CASA for more information about anything you read. And, as always, thank you for your continued support.
Letter from the Executive Director  

Excerpt from
Part three of our 12 part-series: A Year in the Life of CASA See this entire entry and previous entries in my
Executive Director Blog

In the Courtroom:   
Who is involved in a CPS case, what are their roles, how often does this happen?

     In 2016 in our four-county service area of Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties, CASA again saw an increase in the number of children being removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect. Not only did Child Protective Services and the Family Court Judges confirm abuse was happening in the home, but for 1,190 children in Central Texas, it was decided the risk was so high and the abuse was so severe, that they had to be brought into the State's protective care. 
     When a child is removed from home, parent's rights are temporarily restricted and the State of Texas becomes the legal guardian of the child, referred to as "Temporary Managing Conservatorship."  As the parents work to create a safe and stable home for the children to return to, the court ensures that CPS is meeting the needs of the child - things like medical care, mental health care, and educational services.

     The Judge in the courtroom has the responsibility of making decisions on legal actions applying to the children and parents. The Judge listens to everyone's testimony and uses the provided information to make decisions on questions such as where and with whom the child lives, when and how often visitation occurs with parents, and, ultimately, if and when it is safe to return a child to the home.

     Child Protective Services assigns a Caseworker to each child and is responsible for making sure all services are in place and that each child's individual needs are being addressed. Each parent is usually present and often represented by an attorney since these are legal proceedings against them.
      Also, by State law, a special attorney known as an Attorney ad Litem is appointed to each child for the purpose of representing the child's desires since minor children cannot make legal decisions or legally represent themselves in court.  However, in many cases, what the child wants is not what is in their best interests.

       This is where CASA comes in .  A separate Guardian ad Litem must be appointed when the child's best interests need to be represented independently. A GAL may also be appointed if a judge needs additional insight or if a child needs a caring adult to be the eyes-and-ears and hands-and-feet.  Under our State laws, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is the only organization that may be appointed as a child's Guardian ad Litem.

     Also sometimes present in the court room are caregivers or service providers who have information that the judge needs to hear in order to make the best decisions for the child. These people might include foster parents, teachers, therapists, doctors, and others who have contact with the child. Service providers for the parents, such as therapists, may also attend hearings if their information is relevant to the case.

     In 2016, almost 500 children had a CASA volunteer standing by their side in the courtrooms of Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties.  But, almost 700 other children did not.  These children still need a CASA.  Will you help?

     Next month, learn about the judge who started the CASA movement and how CASA of Central Texas has grown over the last 32 years.  Watch for part four of our series, The CASA Story: Why and how CASA was created, CASA of Central Texas milestones.
Thank you,  
Norma Castilla-Blackwell
Executive Director  
Join us at CASA Corral corral

 We are so excited River Road Ice House has partnered with us on CASA Corral and is donating their venue for our event! If you get a chance, check them out and pass along our appreciation.

Purchase individual tickets to CASA Corral here.

Thank you to our event sponsors!
(More are welcome!)

Pecos Bill

Hopalong Cassidy
Coldwell Banker 1st National, REALTORS
Kasha Corp LLC & Elma Teresa Salinas Ender PLLC
Mariposa at Hunter Road Apartments 
McKenna Foundation

Red Ryder
Becky & Gene Lake
Betty and Bill Thomas
Canine Classmates
Children's Dental Ark
CMC Steel Texas
Compadres de CASA

Gunn Nissan
Gruene Wald 
Huisache Grill/Master Pools of Austin
Huddleston & Co/Texas Native Landscaping/Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics
 John Manthey  
J&R Gymnastics 
The Kyle Law Firm
Melinda Rapp
Mission Hill Dental 
Property Professionals, Inc.
Prosperity Bank
Rio Verde Construction  
Texas Lehigh Cement Company LP

Support CASA's largest annual fundraising event through sponsorships, auction donations, or by purchasing tickets. 
Get more information and download the sponsorship package here   
Welcome New CASA Volunteers    
Beth Hittle (right) of Comal County, sworn in on March 7th.


Sworn in on March 8th were:
Tanna Basinger of Hays County, Mario Bermeo of Hays County, Bill Charest of Comal County, Jennifer Estrada of Comal County, Judith Fleming of Comal County, Mike Gentz of Comal County, Eduard Hernandez of Hays County, Jeffrey Kantor of Comal County, Gloria Kolacek of Comal County, Johnny Kolacek of Comal County, Whitney Lee of Comal County, Debbie Miles of Comal County, Don Miller of Comal County, Darline Moos of Comal County, Jane Pollock of Comal County, Charmain Sanchez of Comal County, Carla Stovall of Comal County,  Robert Sudela of Hays County and
Lexus Wren of Hays County.

Eboni Britton of Guadalupe County, sworn in on March 28th. 
ribbon April Proclamations      

 Local government officials will read proclamations throughout the month, officially recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. Community members are invited to attend these proclamations to show your support.

Spotlight on Successful Outcomes     
      Caleb was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and developed several swollen, disfigured fingers that resulted from amniotic band syndrome. All were left untreated by his parents and he was brought into CPS custody while his parents faced charges of medical neglect.

     CASA of Central Texas Volunteer Melinda Rapp was assigned as Caleb's advocate in the summer of 2014 when he was just one year old.
For 2 1/2 years, Melinda diligently advocated for Caleb's medical and other needs. Melinda was faithful to attend doctor appointments, surgeries, and developmental assessment meetings to ensure that Caleb was making progress and achieving developmental milestones.  Melinda also was a warm and caring presence for Caleb who had become quite attached to her.

CASA of Central Texas volunteer Melinda Rapp (far right) with Caleb, his new family, Judge Waldrip, and Dante of Canine Classmates 
    When reunification with the parents was no longer an option, Melinda remained appointed to help search for a forever family that would provide a safe, nurturing, permanent home. Caleb was adopted last month and, as her last official act as his advocate, Melinda arranged for Dante from Canine Classmates to participate in the adoption. Caleb loved Dante being present for his special day.  The adoptive family plans to stay in touch with Melinda.
Many Thanks       

     For a child in foster care, change and instability are commonplace. Moving from foster home to foster home, attending new schools, going to different therapists, meeting new CPS workers...there is little consistency in their lives. CASA volunteers commit to at least one year on each case. This means CASA is often the only constant adult in the life of the child, and CASA also is who the other adults can rely on for complete, accurate and timely information.

     March 21st was CASA's Spring 2017 Permanency Luncheon. Twice a year, we recognize, honor, and thank our volunteers who served until there was a permanent resolution for their children. That means a child was safely reunified with parents, or was adopted into a safe, loving home, or turned 18 and became an adult able to make their own life decisions, or another outcome where the case was closed by the court. 
     We thank these dedicated volunteers for their time and compassion.

Pictured front row l-r: Joe and Shay Timmins, Nancy Deckard, Ted & Nancy Zahorski, John Barthel, Melinda Rapp and Rosa Hernandez.
Back row l-r: Bob Williams, Ren Liner, Nancy and Don Seymour and Mikki Tharp.
Become a CASA Volunteer training
Nancy Deckard, CASA Volunteer

Training courses are ready for you!

Seguin - Location TBA  
April 25 - May 23  
Time TBA
San Marcos CASA office 
April 26 - May 24   
4:30 to 8:30 p.m. 
New Braunfels CASA office
April 27 - May 25 
1 to 5 p.m. 
Check out our calendar for dates and times for the rest of the year and for information on how to get enrolled.

For more information on training courses contact Volunteer Coordinator Samantha Mundine Coleman at 512-392-3578, 830-626-2272 or by email, or click here to visit our website.

Training is required for all new Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers. 
Our Volunteer Training Course is a 5-class series.
Be a Part of Online Giving

Thank you to everyone who participated in Amplify Austin earlier this month! Through the kindness of 81 donors who in total gave more than $6,000 to CASA of Central Texas, the hopes and dreams of more children will come true - a chance for a safe and permanent home, free of abuse and neglect.

If you missed out, you can still participate in the Big Give coming up in May. 

 The 3rd Annual Big Give San Antonio is an online giving day  dedicated  to raising funds and awareness for nonprofits throughout South Central Texas.
"Voices" Information Sessions Voices 

Want to learn more about the role of a CASA Volunteer?

Come to
ribbon our one-hour information session and hear how our volunteers advocate for children who have been abused and neglected.   
CASA staff and
volunteers will be on hand to share their stories and answer your questions.  

New Braunfels 
Wednesday, April 5th, noon 
CASA office

San Marcos 
Wednesday, April 19th,  noon  
Historic County Courthouse, 1st floor conference room

Please RSVP to Eloise Hudson by email or at 830-626-2272. 
Would you like to host a CASA Voices session in your town? Please contact us.
Lunch provided by Fox's Pizza Den in New Braunfels and Chick-fil-A in San Marcos. 
Support CASA this Easter    
     Perfect timing for Easter! The Wing Society has partnered with the HoneyBaked Hams Company in the sale of gift cards and will receive 20% of each sale. 

     The Wing Society is a CASA of Central Texas auxiliary group whose mission is to provide positive support to sustain and vitalize the commitment of volunteer CASA Advocates in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties. Their funding provides get togethers for the volunteers, welcome receptions for new volunteers, scholarships to conferences and more.

     HoneyBaked Gift Cards can be used at HoneyBaked stores nationwide, to shop online, or to order from the HoneyBaked catalog. So don't hesitate to order cards as gifts for friends and relatives in other cities (as well as yourself, of course)! Get your gift cards here 
March 2017
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Upcoming Events


Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month 
Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office

Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse
room 101

CASA Volunteer Training Begins
1 - 5 p.m.
Seguin, location TBA 

CASA Volunteer Training Begins
4:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Historic Hays County Courthouse room 101
CASA Volunteer Training Begins
1 - 5 p.m.
New Braunfels CASA office


Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office

Big Give S.A. Online Fundraiser  
All Day 
More info click here

Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse room 101



Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office
More info click here

CASA Volunteer Training Begins
1-5 p.m.
Historic Hays County Courthouse room 101
CASA Volunteer Training Begins
4:30 - 8:30 p.m.
New Braunfels CASA office
Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse room 101


Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office

Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse
room 101
More info click here

CASA Volunteer Training Begins
4:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Historic Hays County Courthouse room 101
CASA Volunteer Training Begins
1-5 p.m.
New Braunfels CASA office
CASA Of Central Texas Inc.