CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County believes every child who's been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community. To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child's needs remain a priority in an overburdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child's safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained volunteer advocate to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what's best for the child.
Impact for Children
For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible. When it’s safe to do so, CASA believes it is in children’s best interest to stay connected to their families. Of the children whose cases we help close, the majority end up reunited with family or living permanently with relatives.
Judges value CASA’s recommendations, which help them make informed decisions in the child’s best interest. In 2018, out of nearly 2,000 recommendations made by CASA in the Travis County Child Protective Services court, 70% of recommendations were ordered by the judge, and another 24% were negotiated among CASA and other child advocates and agreed upon before the hearing.
If a child has a CASA, the CASA usually is the only person who truly knows the child and knows how the child is really doing.
A study by Texas Appleseed, "Improving the Lives of Children in Long-Term Foster Care," reports that "If a child has a CASA, the CASA usually is the only person who truly knows the child and knows how the child is really doing." Texas CASA reports that children with CASA volunteers are more likely to receive therapy, healthcare, education and other important services.
For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place. Volunteer advocates come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn, and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. Volunteers complete an interview, background checks and a 39-hour intensive training program including courtroom observation, and are then sworn into their roles by a judge. CASA volunteers are appointed to a child or family of children and spend an average of 15–20 hours a month advocating for these children for the lifetime of a case. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, therapists, caregivers and anyone else involved in the child’s life. In addition to the primary CASA volunteer role, Early Family Engagement (EFE) and Family Engagement (FE) volunteer roles support strong connections for a child to their family while offering different types of activities and time commitments to prospective volunteers.
Past, Present and Future
CASA of Travis County is now one of the top ten CASA programs in the nation.
CASA of Travis County was created in 1985 by concerned community members and judges and was the fourth CASA program in Texas—following the creation of the national CASA model by a Seattle family court judge in 1977. In our first year, CASA recruited and trained 43 volunteers who served 85 children.
CASA of Travis County is now one of the top ten CASA programs in the nation, supporting close to 750 volunteers who advocate for more than 1,800 children a year.
CASA’s vision is to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in need in our community. Last year, 900 children still needed a volunteer to speak up for them.
Learn more about becoming a volunteer advocate on our Volunteer page. Read about our progress towards meeting our vision on our Progress & Innovation page. Find out other ways you can help children on our Support page.
CASA of Travis County exists to promote and protect the best interest of children who have been abused or neglected, by training volunteers to advocate for them in courts, in schools and in our community to help them find safe, permanent and loving homes.
For every child who needs us, CASA of Travis County envisions a trained volunteer advocate, a safe home and a promising future.
It is CASA’s duty to promote the safety and well-being of the children we serve. We shall protect children from abuse and from practices that are emotionally and physically damaging, disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitive or intimidating.
In working to achieve our vision, we act on the following core values:
- Excellence in all our endeavors
- Inclusiveness, diversity, respect for all cultures and ethnicities: for children, families, volunteers, staff, Board, and supporters
- Empowering the community through strong screening, training, supervision and support of volunteers
- Honorable and respectful involvement in the child welfare system, with the courts and all parties
- Independent and educated recommendations, true to our understanding of each child’s best interest, that prioritize children’s safety and, wherever possible, preserve connections to their families
- Responsible use of resources to maximize our positive impact on the child welfare system
Commitment to Equal Opportunity
In order to provide the best quality advocacy for children in our community, we believe that we must be responsive to the needs of everyone who may provide, receive or be affected by our services. To that end, all policies, practices and recommendations are administered without discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, gender identity and gender expression, marital status, physical abilities or national origin.