Urgent Need to Protect Abused and Neglected Children in Texas

Rally to Recruit Volunteers Held at the Bexar County Courthouse


San Antonio – Child abuse is an epidemic in our society. Before today is over, three children in the United States will die from abuse – at least one of them will be a baby. About 2,700 children will be abused today. It’s time to end the cycle of abuse.

Today children and adults whose lives have been turned around by having a CASA volunteer in their lives are speaking out at a rally at the Bexar County Courthouse during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Chadwick Sapenter is an example of how a CASA volunteer can change a child’s life. Chadwick’s drug addict father died, his mom had mental problems and drug addictions. He spent his childhood trying to raise his two younger brothers in an unimaginable environment of neglect and abuse. Sapenter ended up in foster care. CASA volunteer, Les Foster, saved his life by speaking up for him in court, mentoring him, caring about him and insisting that he could achieve anything in life he wanted.

Sapenter’s message is motivational for other children with less-than-perfect lives and advocates who devote their careers and volunteer hours to help them. “It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you catch it and throw it back,” Sapenter said. “Life is going to happen. Things go on, and you have to adjust.”

CASA volunteers from across the state of Texas urge their fellow Texans to help serve the thousands of abused and neglected children in Texas who desperately need someone to stand up and advocate for their best interest in the courtroom and beyond.

“We are here wearing blue to speak up for an abused child who has no voice,” said Joe Gagen, CEO of Texas CASA. “We urge Texans to step forward and become a CASA volunteer. CASA volunteers are special. They provide essential one-on-one love, guidance and hope for a safe, permanent home to the children they advocate for. No child should have to navigate the child welfare system without a CASA volunteer by their side,” said Gagen. “However, less than half of the children in state protective custody have the benefit of assistance and support from a CASA volunteer or CASA program.

Our vision is to provide a CASA volunteer to EVERY child who needs one.”
Texas CASA is a statewide association of 69 local CASA nonprofit organizations that recruit, train and supervise community volunteers who are court appointed to represent the best interests of children in CPS custody due to evidence of abuse or neglect. Each CASA volunteer is appointed to advocate for one child or set of siblings so they can really get to know the child or sibling group and what their current and future needs are.

The CASA volunteer visits the child regularly, monitors the child’s progress and the progress of the CPS case in general. The CASA volunteer interviews everyone involved in the child’s life and reviews all relevant medical, educational and legal records, and reports his or her findings to the court and other parties. CASA volunteers make recommendations to judges about the children’s best interests now and in the future.

In FY 2009, 5,648 CASA volunteers advocated for 19,818 children in CPS custody, helping to guide these children through the overburdened foster care system to safe, permanent homes. But, this number represents less than HALF of the children in CPS custody last year.

We want to be able to provide a CASA volunteer for every child who needs one,” said Gagen. “To do this, we must support the volunteer recruitment efforts of our local CASA programs, especially in our urban areas — Houston, Dallas, San Antonio — with increased public awareness about CASA, our mission, and the need for more volunteer advocates.”

When home is no longer safe for a child, and the child must enter the foster care system, a judge may appoint a committed volunteer called a CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocate®. The volunteer’s focus is on that child, giving hope and help in guiding the child to a safe, permanent home. Make a difference. Consider becoming a CASA volunteer. Visit www.BecomeACASA.org