"Ohana Means Family;
Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."
-Lilo & Stitch
Greetings, CASA supporters!

We’re nearing the end on the case I’m currently working – an elementary school-aged brother and sister. Since we’re getting down to the wire, I gently asked my kiddos while visiting the other day where they would like to live once the case closes. Both said the same thing: with their mom and dad.

Rarely – very rarely – do we see children who don’t ask to go back to their parents. No matter what circumstances we’re born into, as human beings we have an innate desire to be with our birth families.
Knowing this, my heart hurts for the children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Both National CASA and Texas CASA have issued statements that reiterate the fact that separating children from their parents unnecessarily causes trauma on both sides. That trauma can have long-lasting negative impacts.

The furor over this situation has lasted weeks, and I was heartened to see this week that a federal judge has now ruled that separated children and parents must be reunited within 30 days (see news article below). But for those whose strong feelings about this situation remain, I would like to remind you that our children in foster care experience this same trauma when they are removed from their birth families for their own protection.

Ask these children, and almost all of them will want to go home – the same as the children being held at our border.

If you’ve watched or read the news from south Texas recently and wondered how you can help, please consider becoming an advocate for children in foster care. Our CASA volunteers work directly with these children to help get them the best outcomes possible. Visit www.casaoftv.org today to apply!

I can tell you from firsthand experience: helping children find safety and permanency is one of the best things you’ll ever do.
Emily Heglund
Executive Director
Family Reunification at the US/Mexico Border

ABC News, Good Morning America, and Yahoo News reported this morning that U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of California has temporarily halted the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and ordered that children taken from their parents must be reunited within 30 days.

About 2,300 children have been separated from their parents since May. To find out more about this story, click the button below.
What's Happening at CASA?
CASA volunteer Diana Benavides, recruiter Ellen Torres and church leader Yolanda Carranza pose for a picture at Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal in Jacksonville.

Ms. Benivides and Ms. Torres gave a bilingual presentation on Bullying, Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse and Volunteering for CASA.

Our program benefits greatly from the participation of bilingual volunteers like Diana and we hope that others are led to follow her example!
Ellen Torres receives a donation on behalf of CASA of Trinity Valley for $250 from Bancorp South Alto branch bank representative Belissa Hicks. The donation will be used in recruitment of new volunteer advocates in Cherokee County.
Coming Soon to CASA:
Secure Video Conferencing
More than 40 local CASA program offices across Texas are overcoming distance barriers for the children and families they serve by conducting virtual meetings and facilitating visits through secure online video conferencing.

The Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) manages a secure video conferencing project (VC). VC calls are conducted over a secure link, which differentiates the OCA’s video conferencing from a public network such as Skype or FaceTime.

While the primary purpose of the VC project was to enable children involved in CPS cases to participate in their court hearings without them being physically present in the courtroom, CASA program offices were added to the list of facilities set up to accommodate private VC calls between children and others.

This now allows CASAs to conduct virtual meetings with a child placed outside the child’s home jurisdiction and to facilitate visits with a child’s siblings and parents, when appropriate. With 102 placement facilities, 44 courts, and 42 CASA program offices video enabled around Texas, technology is helping CASA overcome the geographical barriers!

We are working now to become one of the CASA offices able to provide this service and will update all volunteers as soon as we are approved!
On Saturday, June 9 CASA joined in the celebration in Jacksonville as part of the Annual Tomato Festival! Casework Supervisor Donna Parks met a cute tomato!
Welcome June Graduates!
Celebrating after the swearing-in ceremony in Palestine are (from left) Casework Supervisor Kristi Pickard, advocates Billy Harrison and Mary Walker, Recruiter/Trainer Ellen Torres, Casework Supervisor Donna Crockett and Judge Jeff Doran.
Judge Virginia Schnarr poses for a photo after swearing in Miki Schmidt and DJ Schmidt as Cherokee County's newest CASA volunteers.
Jack Pickard, seen here with his wife Kristi Pickard and Lee Brown, has just become our first Partner Advocate. As a Partner Advocate, he will accompany Kristi on visits to children in her cases.

The role of Partner Advocate was created to provide spouses or others with the opportunity to participate in some of a Volunteer Advocate's case activities.
CASA by the Numbers
We are already halfway through 2018, here's where we stand so far!
Computers For CASA
How did this program begin?
Senate Bill 78 by Senator Jane Nelson was passed during the 85th Legislative Session, giving CASA programs access to Texas’ state agency surplus computers. All of the computers that CASA programs access through this program are required to be distributed directly to foster children and youth served by CASA and in need of a computer for educational and normalcy activities.

Who gets a computer?
While each CASA program is the best judge of the children and youth they are serving and can request a computer for any youth they choose, Texas CASA recommends prioritizing the following populations:
1) Youth emancipating out of the child welfare system,
2) High school students,
3) Middle school students, and
4) Children over the age of 10 in kinship homes without a computer.

Children and youth who already have a personal computer are not eligible to receive one from a CASA program. Additionally, a CASA volunteer or staff person should talk with the child prior to giving him/her any equipment to ensure that the child is interested in receiving it.

How do I request a computer for my CASA kid?
Casework Supervisor Lee Brown in our Palestine office has already completed the required training and made a request on behalf of our program. If you would like to request a computer for your CASA child, please get in touch with Lee below.