Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Sen. Carlos Uresti, Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon and Union Pacific Railroad Co. were honored by Texas CASA (Court Appointed Child Advocates®) and Child Advocates San Antonio at a luncheon, Texas Children. Texas Champions. today at the Pearl Stable.
The three elected officials are being recognized for their commitment to improving the lives of abused and neglected children in foster care through strategic advocacy in the Texas Capitol.
Union Pacific is being honored for its generous and long-time support of Child Advocates San Antonio and Texas CASA, the statewide association of 71 CASA programs, including Child Advocates San Antonio.
“Speaker Straus has been a long-time and effective leader working on behalf of the nearly 48,000 children who are in the Texas foster care system each year,” said Texas CASA Chief Executive Officer Vicki Spriggs. “His leadership in the last legislative session averted cuts in funding for CASA programs and in the end resulted in additional money to help train and support CASA volunteers who speak up for children in the foster care system. That is good for our children and it is good public policy for all Texans.”
“Sen. Uresti is strong champion for Texas children, especially those children who have been failed by the adults who should protect and love them and who end up in foster care,” said Spriggs. “Our children are extraordinarily fortunate to have him in their corner.”
Uresti is a two-time recipient of the Big Voices for Little Texans Award from Texas CASA for his ongoing battle against child abuse and his leadership in passing the Foster Children’s Bill of Rights. In the last legislative session, Uresti sponsored a bill that strengthened CASA’s role in the decision-making process of where children in foster care should be placed.
“Only half the children in care have CASA volunteers to help them through a scary and difficult time. Rep. Jones McClendon helped make sure that we didn’t fall behind with her action,” said Spriggs. “Rep. Jones McClendon authored a budget rider for additional funding for Texas CASA so more CASA volunteers can be recruited and trained to serve more children as they enter the foster care system.”
Union Pacific Railroad Co. has a long history of generously supporting Child Advocates San Antonio and, more recently, Texas CASA. “Union Pacific’s critical support is a wonderful example of corporate social responsibility; companies that are committed to improving the lives of people in their communities,” said Spriggs.
“Such support from companies is important for nonprofit organizations because no single organization or sector can address social ills as overwhelming as the epidemic of child abuse,” said Spriggs. “It truly requires a partnership from all sectors to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children.”
CASA volunteers are professionally trained and then sworn in by judges to advocate for one child or set of siblings in foster care. Volunteer advocates get to know the children, gather information about the children’s needs, and then advocate in court and in the foster care system for the children’s best interests.
Judges rely on CASA’s court reports to help them make better-informed decisions. Children rely on CASA volunteers to help guide them through the foster care system and into caring, permanent homes as quickly and as safely as possible. Children with CASA advocates are more likely to do well in school and less likely to get stuck in long-term foster care.
For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer and to find the CASA program nearest you, please visit www.BecomeACASA.org.