BCBSTX & Texas CASA: Giving a Voice to a Forgotten Group

“I can’t believe they made me move schools again after I had finally made some friends.”

“I know they’re just gonna hold me back again. What’s the point of trying?”

“Maybe if my teacher knew about everything going on in my group home, he wouldn’t be so hard on me.”

“I hope no one asks me how I spent my summer vacation – I didn’t even have one.”

The new school year is right around the corner, and while their classmates are soaking up the last few weeks of summer vacation, children in long-term foster care are grappling with issues that no child should have to face.

These children in long-term care, or Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC), are the most vulnerable. They are in the permanent care of the Texas child welfare system, their parents’ rights terminated, and with each day that they spend in the system, they become less and less likely to find a permanent home.

For these kids, the state is their only parent, and it’s not equipped to be a very good one. They need the support and stability that comes with a loving, permanent family, but many times the only consistency children in long-term care get is inconsistency – moving from placement to placement, school to school, caseworker to caseworker.

All too often, the urgency for finding them loving, permanent homes is lost, and many of them end up leaving the system at age 18 more damaged than when they entered. Without the safety net of a supportive family and positive adult connections, many are left unprepared for adulthood and face bleak outcomes like homelessness, incarceration, mental health issues and drug addiction.

This cycle ends now.

Texas CASA, one of our Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® partners, spent the last three years developing the PMC Project to recruit and train more CASA volunteers who will put an eye back on these children. CASA volunteers are individuals from all walks of life who speak up for a child’s best interests in court. By getting to know the child and being a consistent presence in their lives, CASA volunteers can truly be a lifeline for children in long-term foster care – advocating on behalf of their best interests, helping create a network of support, and reigniting the urgency to find them stable homes where they can thrive.

In the PMC Project’s final year, the participating local CASA volunteer advocacy programs served 508 new children in PMC with the help of 289 newly recruited and trained volunteers – far surpassing the goal of serving 390 youth with 195 volunteers. An additional 317 tenured volunteers were also trained in PMC advocacy strategies, ensuring that they are ready to take on a PMC case should the need arise.

Once the project came to an end, the next step was to ensure that all the CASA programs in Texas were equipped to effectively serve these children and youth. The PMC Resource Guide and Toolkit was created and distributed to the 71 local CASA programs. Developed with and tested by the pilot programs, the guide will act as a resource for CASA programs to serve more kids in long-term foster care by recruiting and specially training volunteers to advocate specifically for these children and the unique challenges they face.

BCBSTX and Texas CASA believe that every child deserves a chance to succeed. Every child deserves to be surrounded by a positive support system and loving family. Every child deserves a safe and positive future. Through the PMC Project, the CASA network is taking steps to create brighter outcomes for children in long-term care by recruiting and cultivating a strong base of advocates who will not rest until these often-forgotten kids have the support, resources and connections they need to thrive. To learn more about Texas CASA and how to become a volunteer, visit BecomeACASA.org.

Comment

SIGN IN to share your comments or REGISTER today to become a Connect member.