Jun 04 2015
We are proud to announce that The Honorable Darlene Byrne has been named Judge of the Year and our Family Finding Program has been named a Promising Practice in the National CASA 2015 Awards of Excellence! The awards were announced this past weekend at National CASA's annual conference.
Judge Byrne is a child advocacy leader at a local, state and national level. Whether it is through her unfailing compassion and respect for those children and families appearing before her in court or through her writings and public appearances, she is committed to improving the child welfare system.
Under Judge Byrne’s leadership, the Travis County child protection courts were named a model court in 2009. Since then, the model court has been used to improve the system for children and families by examining data and applying common-sense solutions for children. A true believer in the CASA model, she often pens editorials and makes public appearances to increase the community’s understanding of what children and families need. As all of us know, she consistently uses her powerful voice from the bench to benefit children and families, and to demonstrate that she values the work that CASA does. We cannot imagine a more deserving person to receive National CASA’s Judge of the Year award.
Judge Byrne took a moment from her award acceptance speech to applaud and thank the CASA volunteers and staff:
"I want to thank you for your courage. I want to thank you for your humor. I want to thank you for the hugs you've given a child, for the voice you give young people, for the words of encouragement for a mom and dad who are down on their luck with no parents of their own. I want to thank each and every one of you for being there for the child."
The Family Finding Program has earned CASA of Travis County one of two Promising Practice Spotlights for 2015. Although we are not the first, or only, CASA program to engage in diligent search efforts for placements for children, we have created a unique and specific model. On our own initiative, we embarked on the most comprehensive family-finding effort in the history of Texas CASA. We secured dedicated funding to employ, full-time, a staff member for the purposes of training and supervising volunteers in their efforts to find extended family, long-lost relatives and supportive adults for children and youth.
One illustration of our success involved the case of two girls, aged four and six-years-old. Facing termination of parental rights, the children were living with a maternal aunt who had expressed she would not be a permanent placement for the girls. Utilizing its family finding approach, we identified another maternal aunt who had previously been screened out as a possible permanent resource. This family engagement resulted in a long-term solution for the children.
Our program is also unique in that we offer family-finding services to cases at all stages of the child welfare legal process. This program has been so successful that Texas CASA is seeking legislative appropriations and Child Protective Services’ support to pilot the model in other organizations across Texas.
Director of Family Engagement AJ Renold and Executive Director Laura Wolf accepted the Promising Practices award. In her acceptance speech, AJ shared with the audience how "family finding is key to achieving two essential goals of CASA programs: protecting the well-being of children and empowering volunteers." Later that day, AJ presented on the Family Finding Program to a large audience as one of the conference workshops. We are excited to help this program expand to CASA programs across the state and country so that more children in the Child Protective Services system will build meaningful family connections.
Director of Family Engagement AJ Renold, Executive Director Laura Wolf, The Honorable Darlene Byrne, Board Member Jessica Blacklock
January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 November 2013 October 2013