Empty nests equal new CASA volunteers

Empty nests equal new CASA volunteers

May 29 2013

By Sonia Kotecha

Out of all the opportunities in Austin why do you want to be a CASA volunteer?

This is the first question we pose to prospective CASA volunteers as part of their pre-training interview process. Our volunteers come from all walks of life so you can imagine the varying responses we receive, from wanting to make a significant impact in the life of a child to wanting to gain experience working in the judicial and social service system while giving back to the community. As we approach this time of year another theme emerges as to why one chooses to become a CASA volunteer – empty nest syndrome.

As high school seniors are waiting on the edge of their seats to throw off their caps and gowns and embrace their newfound independence, their parents are often left sitting on the bleachers pondering, “What’s next for me?” Becoming a CASA volunteer is the solution for many parents who experience a sense of loss and loneliness when their only or last child leaves the so-called ‘nest.’ Read more< Read More

Meet Volunteer Advocate Richard Mattingly

Meet Volunteer Advocate Richard Mattingly

May 21 2013

Richard Mattingly has spent much of his life in the world of education. After growing up in Houston, he headed to Austin to attend the University of Texas and became a high school math teacher. He then continued his own education before working for the University of Texas for 27 years in the education department and as the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Read More

Helping prevent children from coming into foster care

Helping prevent children from coming into foster care

May 15 2013

Many people assume that all of the children served by CASA are in foster care and the majority of them are. However, because our courts in Travis County want to help families address their problems quickly and early, we are also appointed to children who are at risk of moving into foster care but for whom the court, CPS and CASA are making a last effort to try to avoid that outcome.

Children who come to the attention of CPS have already experienced abuse or neglect; however, removal of a child from his home and familiar surroundings, especially when followed by placement in foster care with strangers can be just as traumatizing, if not more so, than the situation that brought the child to CPS's attention in the first place. Fortunately, when there is a parent who is willing and eager to begin services that will correct the problems in the home and there is supportive and protective family or friends who are willing to keep the children safe, it can be possible to keep kids from having the State of Texas as their parent, even on a temporary basis. Read more< Read More

Thanking our Austin CASA volunteers

Thanking our Austin CASA volunteers

May 02 2013

On April 23, 2013, we celebrated our more than 550 dedicated volunteer advocates here in Austin with a party and dinner in their honor. Volunteers received many words of gratitude from The Honorable Darlene Byrne, Executive Director Laura Wolf, Program Director Key Richardson, and Director of Volunteers Sonia Kotecha. Our keynote speaker for the evening was Courtney Jones, a young woman who grew up in the foster care system, had a CASA volunteer of her own and who is now working to change and improve the foster system for other youth. Hear more< Read More

Speaking up for Felicia and Noemi

Speaking up for Felicia and Noemi

Apr 26 2013

By Callie Langford, Originally published in TODO Austin Magazine

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the needs of children and families across our country. Last year in Travis County alone, almost 2,000 children were brought into the care of Child Protective Services after having experienced abuse or neglect in their homes. Here is one CASA volunteer’s story of advocating for two young sisters to help them reach a safe, permanent home and stay connected with their family:

Felicia and her baby sister Noemi have smiles that could melt your heart, in spite of having gone through a lot in their young lives. When Felicia was two, the girls were removed from their young mother’s home when her immaturity and inability to care for her children proved too unsafe for them. The girls were far behind in their development, and Felicia displayed aggressive behavior and had not yet begun talking. At first, the little girls went to live with relatives, but this home quickly proved unsafe as well and the children were placed with a foster family. Read more< Read More