First Lady Laura Bush & Fort Worth First Lady Rosie Moncrief Join Texas Casa To Kick Off A New Statewide Campaign To Recruit Casa Volunteers

Texas Casa Launches New Laura Bush Psa To Air Statewide


Fort Worth — Former First Lady Laura Bush today threw her support behind Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in a special launch of a public awareness campaign to recruit new CASA volunteers across Texas.

“Every year thousands of abused and neglected children are placed in foster care. Each one of these children need someone they can count on to help them get through the foster care system and into a caring home,” said Former First Lady Laura Bush, in the new PSA. “CASA volunteers do this every day, but we need more good people to speak up for children. Consider becoming a CASA volunteer or supporter. You will make a lifelong difference in a child’s life and your own.”

The new Public Service Announcement was unveiled to hundreds of CASA volunteers at a special screening at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth during Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. Fort Worth’s First Lady Rosie Moncrief, a longtime supporter of the CASA mission introduced the PSA and joined First Lady Laura Bush in a call for more CASA volunteers.

“CASA is the only program in our state where volunteers are appointed by the court to represent a child’s best interests,” said Ft. Worth First Lady Rosie Moncrief. “ These volunteers provide a critical and unduplicated service to abused and neglected children in our community. Their work is impactful and it matters. The advocates’ genuine heart for children instills a needed trust and a safe place for these children to express their feelings.”

Volunteers are desperately needed to help protect Texas children in foster care, especially with the upcoming cuts to the Child Protective Service Budget in the next biennium. In 2010, 227 Texas children died of abuse and neglect in Texas. Nearly 43,000 children were in foster care in 2010 and Child Protective Services estimates that more than 51,000 will be in care by 2014.

“Children are often shuffled from home to home in the foster care system and feel scared and alone,” said Texas CASA Board President Debbie Ferguson. “The CASA volunteer is the one constant caring adult in a child’s life who mentors the child and helps the child find a safe and loving home.”

Patricia Nolan, a CASA volunteer from Tarrant County, is one of those caring and compassionate advocates for children. She has volunteered for CASA for 10 years and says the upcoming adoption of a 12-year-old boy named Cristain, who joined her at the event, is her proudest moment being a CASA. Cristain’s mother had a drug problem and her rights were terminated in 2008. As Cristian’s CASA volunteer, Nolan was the only constant in his life during four years of turmoil and distress.

“Cristian is just one example of the thousands of children who are abused and neglected in our state and who need our help,” said Nolan. “All Cristain ever wanted from the day I met him was a family. He was moved to five different foster homes over a four-year period. Other kids were getting adopted and he did not understand why no one wanted him. I kept telling him that I was looking for a special home and I was not going to “just let anyone” adopt him.” said Nolan.

Cristian is now 12 years old and is living with the family who is in the process adopting him. He is changing his name to Anthony in celebration of joining his new family where he gets to be a big brother and is one of three children.

“CASA of Tarrant County is proud to partner with all CASA programs across our state in raising a voice against the unspeakable. Our work is powerful, it is impactful and most importantly, it forever changes the lives of abused and neglected children.“ said Connie R. Brown, Executive Director, CASA of Tarrant County.

In FY 2010, 6,619 CASA volunteers advocated for abused and neglected children. CASA programs advocated for 20,861 children in CPS custody. They helped guide the 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. About 8,300 more children will be entering the child welfare systems by 2014, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Studies have shown that children who have CASA volunteers spend a shorter time in foster care and are less likely to return to the system, which is good for children and good for taxpayers.

“We are here speaking up for abused children who have no voice,” said Texas CASA CEO Joe Gagen. “Too many children are abused and neglected and hundreds of children are dying each year. We need thousands of caring adults to get involved in a child’s life and become a CASA volunteer. We are excited to partner with the cable industry that is generously donating millions of dollars in airtime to help our campaign. We want to thank Time Warner, Suddenlink, Grande, Comcast and Charter for their generous support,” said Gagen.

Texas CASA is a statewide association of 69 local CASA programs 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 he or she can get to know the child or sibling group and what the children’s 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.

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

The new Laura Bush Public Service Announcements will begin running on cable this month.

• Every 8 minutes a child in Texas was a victim of abuse or neglect
• A child died from abuse and neglect every 38 hours in Texas
• 1 out of every 100 children was a victim of abuse or neglect in Texas
• Nearly 40,000 or 59% of those children were infants to 6 years old
• Nearly 43,000 children were in the case and custody of DFPS
• Nearly 22,000 children, more than half the children in care, did NOT have CASA advocates as they made their journey through foster care

Source: DFPS Data Book for FY 2010 (Sept. 1, 2009-Aug. 31, 2010)
For more information about your county, go to the Data Book.