Churches Join Texas Casa to Kick Off a Statewide Campaign to Recruit African-American Casa Volunteers During Black History Month

Donald, a Former Dallas Foster Child, Speaks Out About The Importance of CASA in His Life


Dallas, Texas – Court Appointed Special Advocates® (CASA) and CASA programs from throughout North Texas are reaching out to community leaders to raise awareness about the desperate need to recruit volunteers, specifically African-Americans and male volunteers, to help abused and neglected children in and around the region.

“We believe African-American communities are deeply committed, concerned and want to make a difference for children in North Texas,” said Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO.

Right now, 28 percent of the children served by CASA are African-American while only 8 percent of the volunteers are African-American. Children benefit from a one-on-one relationship with a caring, supportive adult and it can lead to positive changes in a child’s life. Also, African-American volunteers are more likely to be sensitive to cultural differences the kids face when placed with a foster family that is not from a similar background. CASA volunteers are often the one constant in a child’s life as he or she goes through foster care.

“We believe by working with pastors and other leaders in our communities we can find community members who may be volunteers willing to help children,” said Spriggs.

“Every year thousands of abused and neglected children are placed in foster care. Each one of these children needs someone they can count on to help them get through the foster care system and into a caring home,” said Rev. Charles Wolford II, Associate Pastor of Outreach from Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church. “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.”

African-American children represent 26 percent of the children in our state’s care, though African-American children represent only 12 percent of the general population. Of the more than 16,000 children removed from their homes and placed in the Texas child welfare system, 4,482 were African-American. In 2011, CASA volunteers advocated for the best interest of African-American children in court and beyond, but the numbers are staggering when it comes to need for African-American volunteers.

“Together, through advocacy and partnership, we can make a difference providing advocates who ensure safe, permanent homes for African- American children in Texas,” said Spriggs.

Volunteers are needed to help protect Texas children in foster care. In 2011, 239 Texas children died of abuse and neglect in Texas. More than 46,000 children were in the legal custody of CPS in 2011 and projections predict that close to 50,000 will be in custody by 2014,

Kim Irvin, a CASA volunteer from Collin County, is one of those caring and compassionate advocates for children. Kim has helped several children through the court process in Collin County and explained her experience at the news conference today.

“Children are often shuffled from home to home in the foster care system and feel scared and alone,” said Irvin. “The CASA volunteer is the often the one constant caring adult in a child’s life who advocates for the child’s best interests and helps the child find a safe and loving home.”

Donald is a former foster child from Dallas who entered the foster care system after his mother died a violent death on the streets of South Dallas. Several Dallas CASA volunteers and Dallas CASA Ron Craig helped Donald. Donald eventually moved to Corsicana, became a star football player and was crowned “Homecoming King.” He invited his CASA Ron to join him on the field for his ceremony.

“I was moved around from foster home to foster home and different treatment facilities. I eventually ended up in Corsicana where I attended school from 8th to 12th grade. I needed someone who made me feel like I mattered. My CASA was the trusting, caring adult I was desperately seeking. He attended my football games. He listened and he cared. CASA is a powerful voice for children in court.”

“Donald is an inspiration and is just one example of the thousands of children who are in the foster care system and need our help,” said Ron Craig of Dallas CASA.

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, and help guide children out of the foster care system as soon as possible.

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

For more information, see the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services 2011 Databook.