Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
CASA began serving children in the Concho Valley as the direct result of the death of a local child by physical abuse. The original founders organized in November of 1986. They called themselves PACA, Parents Against Child Abuse. The group became formally incorporated as CASA of the Tom Green County on March 26, 1987. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) joined the Children’s Advocacy Center in 1998. The program’s mission is to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children whose future home will be determined by a Court of Law. Volunteers embody the spirit of the program and CASA’s goal is to provide each child a safe, permanent and nurturing home.
Who are our CASA volunteers?
CASA volunteers are from all walks of life, ages, and ethnic groups who are trained to act as court-appointed advocates for children involved in the judicial process. CASA’s primary mandate is to provide advocacy for abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes and who are in state conservatorship. As trained volunteers, CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to be a voice for these children in Court. CASA volunteers are ordinary people who are committed to doing what is best for a child in the foster care system. CASA volunteers serve as the court’s eyes and ears to give the judge information that will help decide whether a child should stay with parents, be placed with relatives, or be freed for permanent adoption.
The Concho Valley Family Alliance (CVFA)
Created in 2005, and administered by the Children’s Advocacy Center, this partnership between parents, residents, and professionals is committed to advocacy, education, and strengthening families and creating or modifying services to fill gaps in our community. During monthly meetings, parents and organizations come together to discuss the needs of families and children in our community, plan for family friendly events, outreach and awareness activities and opportunities for family community involvement. April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month: The CAC promotes prevention and awareness throughout the year, but April’s nationally recognized Child Abuse Prevention Month receives the most media attention. Events are scheduled throughout the month of April, including our “Picnic in the Park” which gathers more than 1000 participants every year who receive info and education on local resources, and spend quality time together as family.
Historically, when responding to reports of child abuse and neglect, numerous problems have been encountered, including excessive interviews of child victims, development of physical evidence and lack of communication among involved agencies. Having recognized these issues, Tom Green County developed a cooperative team approach to the investigation of child abuse and neglect. Beginning in November of 1992, the first child was interviewed at Hope House. Hope House staff work with representatives from Child Protective Services, the police department, the sheriff’s office, the district attorney’s office, medical personnel, therapists and other community service agencies, who comprise a team of experts designed to review cases of children who have been abused and determine if there is enough evidence to pursue prosecution against the alleged perpetrator. This is an important component as it brings justice to children who have been traumatized by abuse. Hope House provides a warm, home -like, neutral environment for children who are brought here for the interview process upon an outcry of alleged abuse or neglect.
The Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT)
Evaluates every child death in a 13-county region. The goal is to improve the response to child fatalities, while learning what can be done to prevent future child deaths from occurring. Additionally, the CFRT strives to provide accurate information on how and why children in our area are dying. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the number of preventable child deaths by establishing an effective review and standardized data collection system for all child fatalities. Child fatality review teams are multi-disciplinary, multi-agency panels that review all child deaths regardless of the cause. Members include law enforcement, prosecutors, medical examiners, justices of the peace, health care professionals, child protective services, public and mental health professionals, educators and child advocates. These teams are uniquely qualified to understand what no single agency or group working alone can: how and why children are dying in their community.
Family Enrichment Services (FES)
Created in 1999, offers a whole family approach to strengthening the family. Services are offered in Tom Green, Concho and Runnels counties. FES is for any parent or caregiver who has ever had a question about raising a child. In 2013, 530 children and adults were served.
Additional FES Programs
These are services offered to families referred by the Tom Green County Juvenile Probation Department to provide short-term, intensive, inhome counseling services aimed at keeping children in the home and families together.
Parent Mentor Program
The Parent Mentor program is for or those seeking parenting tips or guidance but do not want to attend with a large group. Our trained Parent Mentors meet with families in their homes and tailor services specific to an array of parenting issues – from increasing your child’s self esteem, to coping with an “out of control” child, to navigating local resources and addressing educational issues within the school system.
The Parent Project®
For parents of teenagers ages 13-17. The Parent Project® is a program designed specifically for parents with strong-willed or out-of-control children. The Parent Project® helps to prevent, identify, and intervene in the most destructive of adolescent behaviors.
Accredited Parents Anonymous® of the Concho Valley
Parents Anonymous® Program is an evidence-based family strengthening program (http://parentsanonymous.org/research/) utilizing mutual support (the giving and getting of help), parent leadership (seeking solutions and becoming empowered), and shared leadership® (working together) to achieve personal growth, improve family functioning and achieve parental resilience.
- The Parents Anonymous® Program consists of a weekly support group for Parents and Caregivers and a separate group for their Children and Youth (0-18).
- Parents Anonymous® is both an intervention and prevention program where parents and their children are empowered to create positive and long term change for their families.
- There is a Trained Facilitator and Parent Group Leader in every Parents Anonymous® Group fostering emotional support amongst all participants to improve protective factors, reduce risk, and ensure family stability.
- Parent leadership opportunities through National Certification (http://parentsanonymous.org/national-certification/) and the Shared Leadership® in Action Program (http://parentsanonymous.org/programs/shared-leadership-in-action-program/) are fostered outside of the Parents Anonymous® Group to ensure meaningful shared leadership® in policy development, program design and achieving positive outcomes for families and every February we celebrate National Parent Leadership Month (http://parentsanonymous.org/programs/national-parent-leadership-month/).
- Parents and caregivers of all backgrounds are welcome including mothers, fathers, grandparents, step parents, parents of special needs children, teen parents and foster parents.
- Parents are encouraged to address any family concern in a safe and caring environment.
- Advocacy efforts are essential and for those families involved in the child welfare system the National Coalition on Parent Advocacy can help (https://strengthening-families.org/parentadvocacy/index.html).
- Trained Children and Youth Program Workers foster a supportive environment for children and youth ages 0-18 to build self-esteem, foster positive peer relationships and enhance personal development and family relationships.
- Children and Youth learn and practice positive ways of interacting, problem-solving and supporting one another, and learn better coping strategies.
- Parents call the National Parent Helpline® 1-855-4AParent (1-855-427-2736) to receive emotional support and referrals in between weekly Parents Anonymous® Groups (www.nationalparenthelpline).
- Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength® is the foundation to the success of Parents Anonymous® programs.