January, 2012Vicki Spriggs, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission for 16 years, has been named chief executive officer of Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates®), the statewide association for 69 local programs that advocate through volunteers for children in the foster care system.
Spriggs replaces Joe Gagen, who is retiring after five and half years as CEO of the agency which through its member programs supervised over 7,000 volunteer advocates last year. Spriggs begins the new position on Jan. 2, 2012.
“Ms. Spriggs has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to improving the lives of children,” said Debbie Ferguson, president of the Texas CASA Board of Directors. “When you combine that with her extensive experience in growing and building an effective statewide program that serves children and youth, one can see why Texas CASA is fortunate to have her as our new CEO.”
“I look forward to continuing the CASA community’s efforts to provide a CASA volunteer for every child that needs one,” Spriggs added.
At the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, Spriggs supervised a staff of 78 and worked with 165 Chief Juvenile Probation Officers and their staff across the state. She oversaw an agency that grew from $120 million to $325 million while providing quality rehabilitative services for Texas juvenile offenders.
Austin-based Texas CASA provides funding and technical assistance to local CASA programs that recruit, train and supervise volunteers who are appointed by the courts to advocate for children in foster care. Texas CASA also works at the state and national levels to improve the child welfare system so that foster children receive the services they need and move through the foster care system as quickly as possible into safe, permanent homes.
Spriggs has served as executive director of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission since 1995. She served as management auditor for the agency from 1983-1987. Following that, she worked for two years as a casework manager for the juvenile prevention division of the Travis County Juvenile Court. She returned to the TJPC in 1989 as director of training and staff development and rose through the ranks before being named interim executive director and then executive director in 1995.
The TJPC recently was merged with the Texas Youth Commission to form the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice.
Spriggs began her career in child advocacy while working on a bachelor of education and a master’s of education in juvenile justice and secondary counseling from the University of Massachusetts. She served as a caseworker for the Massachusetts Program for the Rehabilitation of Youth and later as director of the juvenile justice undergraduate academic programs at the University of Massachusetts.
“We are confident that under Vicki’s leadership we will be well positioned to continue to collaboratively grow CASA services in Texas and work to improve the child welfare system,” Ferguson said.
Last year, CASA programs in the Texas CASA network advocated in court for more than 22,000 children in foster care. Only half of the more than 43,000 children in care have CASA volunteers. Texas CASA’s vision is to have a CASA volunteer for every child in foster care.
Texas CASA partners with local CASA programs by providing funding, statewide and regional recruitment efforts and training to improve the quality of advocacy by CASA volunteers. CASA volunteers are community volunteers who undergo background checks and intensive training to prepare them to advocate for children in court. Judges who oversee civil foster care cases appoint CASA volunteers to speak up for the best interest of children in court.
CASA volunteers are often the only constant in a child’s journey through foster care, often outlasting child protective services caseworkers, foster homes, lawyers and even judges. As a result, CASA volunteers often know more about the child than anyone else in the system.
CASA volunteers work to move foster children through the child welfare system as quickly as possible and into safe permanent homes so that healing can begin.
For more information about CASA, visit www.BecomeACASA.org.