CASA of McLennan County Annual Report FY21

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FY21 ANNUAL REPORT

CASA of McLennan County


LETTER FROM LEADERSHIP As we began our fiscal year in September 2020 with hope for health and safety, we had no idea that here, a year later, our community would still be reeling from the increased and varied effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. CASA of McLennan County remains committed and flexible as we prioritize the health and safety of our staff, board, advocates, and the children and families we serve. We applaud the patience and stamina of our volunteer advocates as they face unusual needs, extended case timelines, and major changes to the foster care system overall. In the face of ever-changing expectations and needs, we have continued to place a high priority on quality advocacy for children and families in the foster care system. To move forward in that goal, we further honed our staff structure this fiscal year by adding a Program Director position to our Management Team. This new Program Director role serves to oversee the compliance and advocacy functions of our organization, providing support to our advocacy staff. This added staff support and oversight translates to better support for our volunteer advocates, and therefore higher quality advocacy for children in care. Statewide, the foster care system in Texas faces challenges and change, including placement capacity crises, Community Based Care rollout, and impactful legislative changes to the Texas Family Code. CASA of McLennan County has stayed on top of these changes in our broader system, proactively learning and adapting our procedures and expectations. Our program has also intentionally networked and communicated with partner professionals and stakeholders to ensure our program remains in tune with and contributes to developments in our local foster care community. Now more than ever, CASA’s presence and advocacy are vital to the safety and best interest of children in the foster care system. We are grateful for the partners, stakeholders, funders, and community supporters who make our important work possible.

Anna Futral Executive Director

Mandi DuPuy Board President


VISION A CASA volunteer for every abused and neglected child in the foster care system.

MISSION To provide a trained volunteer, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, for every abused and neglected child in the county we serve so that these children may ultimately thrive in safe, nurturing, and permanent homes. We are making a difference — one child at a time.


WHAT IS CASA?

CASA is part of a nationwide organization of Court Appointed Special Advocates with 950 chapters in 49 states, and more than 93,000 volunteers. CASA volunteers are everyday people – teachers, business people, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and grandparents – who are committed to making a difference for children who might otherwise slip through the cracks in an overburdened foster care system.

WHAT DOES A CASA DO?

Our volunteer advocates are appointed by a judge and assigned to a case where they spend time getting to know the child(ren) involved. Their purpose is to gather as much information about the child(ren), as well as all the stakeholders in their life, such as family of origin, foster placement, doctors, teachers, CPS workers, etc. All of this information is then compiled into a report for the court. CASA volunteers also identify and address risks, work

with supportive people in the child’s life, and ensure appropriate physical and mental health assessments are completed to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. They also make sure that educational assessments are completed and educational supports are in place. CASA volunteers provide a consistent presence in a child’s life and work to ensure they are safe during their time in foster care.


THE CASA DIFFERENCE We know that many of the ways CASA makes a difference in the lives of children and families in crisis is hard to measure. Nevertheless, it is exciting to see the numbers that represent the effect that our work has on the children and families we serve.

130

23,066

CASA Volunteers

miles driven by Volunteers

351

Children served

4,515

hours worked on cases by Volunteers

152

Families Served

168

Donors supporting our work


Due to heightened monitoring of foster placements and facilities, as well as changes to residential facility contract legislation and funding, Texas has seen a dramatic drop in licensed placements and has faced a capacity crisis across 2021. There are not enough placements for children in care, resulting in record headcounts of children without placement, or “CWOP”. These children sleep for days, weeks, or months in hotels, shelters, or in CPS offices, until appropriate placement in a home or residential facility can be found. This naturally disrupts their behavior, routines, and education, causing further trauma. Though CASA cannot directly provide housing or arrange placement for these children, we have made every effort to shore up some physical needs for any CASA-appointed children without placement, as well as provide resources and support to the caseworkers who monitor and care for CWOP children.

Community-Based Care (CBC) is a statewide foster care system change that provides case management services in a new way. Key responsibilities and functions shift from the state child welfare system to individual, nonprofit contractors, within specific geographic areas. The responsibility to find foster homes or placements for children, and ultimately provide them with full case management services, is tasked to each individual contractor. The Texas legislature and the Department of Family & Protective Services began implementing CBC in 2013, gradually phasing in the change based on geographic areas and funding. CBC has not yet begun in McLennan County.

Recent changes to legislation and the Texas Family Code significantly changed the definitions and thresholds for abuse and neglect and introduced new policies and procedures for the investigation of abuse and removal of children. The child welfare community in Texas saw the implementation and effect of these changes across the summer of 2021, with an overall result of more families being referred to Family-Based Safety Services or Court Ordered Services and fewer children being removed from the home and placed in foster care. Because the threshold for abuse or neglect has eased, only the most egregious and overt cases will result in removal. As such, CASA’s advocacy is needed more than ever, for these children who have experienced intense trauma and abuse.


Waco and McLennan County are fortunate to have a strong network of state and private agencies, legal professionals, nonprofits, and ministries focused on foster care. With the weighty changes and challenges described here, we must increase our communication and collaboration in order to improve service to our community’s families, children, and foster or kinship placement families within the foster care system. To begin to address this need, CASA leadership met with city leaders as well as key personnel at Prosper Waco to suggest the formation of a coalition. Both groups were eager to support this project. Prosper Waco will convene a strategic working group of local civic and foster care stakeholders to promote communication, planning, and implementation regarding the needs of families and children in the foster care system. The effort will analyze and take action around strengthening families by addressing the current foster care climate and statewide changes on the horizon or upon us. Prosper Waco has had success convening other strategic working groups to address other types of community needs and will model this group after those successes. Prosper Waco will seek the modest funding needed to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of this effort and will establish a Leadership Team for the ongoing work. Prosper Waco anticipates calling this working group the Families & Foster Care Coalition (FFCC) for Waco and McLennan County. Prosper Waco will guide this coalition through important processes and discussions to determine goal alignment, identify change agents, and determine appropriate action phases. Upon initial discussion of plans for this coalition, there is clarity that an immediate goal will be to increase efficiency and clarity of communication among stakeholders and service organizations. If the key players in the foster care scene have an accurate understanding of each agency, nonprofit, or ministry’s mission and work, and how services are made available to clients, colleagues, families, and children, we will all be able to provide enhanced services in our specific areas. Meanwhile, the coalition will also collaborate to gain a common understanding of the systemic and statewide challenges at hand and proactively develop action steps to prepare for or adapt to those changes locally. CASA is honored to take part in leading this new coalition of caring and capable stakeholders. We are also grateful to the leadership at the City of Waco and Prosper Waco for seeing the need and being willing to support our community’s families and children in the foster care system.


Lizzie (left) with her parents and sister Molly. Photo Credit: Lizzie Allen

ONE FAMILY’S LEGACY CONTINUES WITH CASA Caring for kids in foster care is a part of Lizzie Allen’s family heritage. Lizzie’s grandmother, Marguerite “Peggy” Terbrack, always wanted twelve kids but only had nine. So, she and her husband decided to become foster parents in 1973. She continued fostering for two decades after her husband died in 1987, and only stopped fostering when a relative gave birth to triplets and she wanted to help them. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 79, but her legacy lives on in her descendants. Lizzie Allen’s mom is one of Peggy’s biological children, six of whom also became foster parents and three of whom also adopted. Even though Lizzie is biologically an only child, she has 17 foster siblings one of which, her sister Molly, was adopted.


Her family’s legacy of involvement with foster care and her passion to advocate for kids made becoming a CASA volunteer the perfect fit for her. She completed CASA’s training in October 2020 and was assigned her first case in November. She wasn’t sure how she would handle working with the family of origin, because she has seen so many hard things that her foster siblings had to deal with. In her case, the parents are working really hard and she feels good about her involvement in the process. The roots that Lizzie’s grandmother grew in caring for kids in the foster care system continue to bear fruit through CASA's advocacy over a decade after her passing.

A Terbrack Family reunion with Lizzie’s grandmother, Marguerite “Peggy” Terbrack, in the middle of the front row. Photo Credit: Lizzie Allen


Board of Directors

Officers

Mandi DuPuy, President Board member since 2016 Mandi DuPuy currently serves as the President of the CASA Board of Directors. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Mandi worked for Children's Protective Services in a Conservatorship unit. She was also the Region 6 Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) Coordinator. Currently, she is a contract social worker. She and her husband Cary are active in the Waco Community. They have three children-Scott who is a senior at TAMU, Paige, who is a junior at Boston University, and Neal, who is a freshman at UT.

Nick Deaver, Vice President Board member since 2018 Nick Deaver was born in Waco and graduated from Baylor University. He earned a Masters in International Banking & Finance at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Nick is a Senior Vice President at American Bank and has worked there for eight years. Nick and his wife, Anna-Louise, have two wonderful children.

Alex Jones Adesina, Secretary Board member since 2020 Alex Jones Adesina grew up in Waco and her family fostered children in their home during much of her childhood. After graduating from high school, she went to Trinity University before moving to Chicago to teach high school chemistry and physics with Teach For America. She loved the Windy City so much that she decided to stay for medical school, where she happened to meet her husband. Their adventure took them to Lancaster, PA, where they finished their training. She is excited to be a member of the Board of Directors, not only because of her experiences fostering children but also because she believes that childhood is a fundamental part of self-exploration and selffulfillment. Alex Jones Adesina is a family medicine physician and will be joining Waco Family Medicine

Marissa Stovall, Tresurer Board member since 2017 Marissa Stovall is a CPA and Baylor graduate. She currently works as the Assistant Controller II at Home State Insurance Group, Inc. Marissa joined the CASA Board in 2017, when Anna Futral became the Executive Director. She has a personal connection and passion for children in the foster care system, as she lived at Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, Texas for 3 years and participated in their college program. Marissa knows personally how important it is for children to have a voice and an adult advocate for them. It is thanks to the advocates in her life that she is where she is today. Marissa is honored to work on the CASA Board and serve the children in the McLennan County foster care system.


Board Members Bryan Fonville Board member since 2016 Bryan Fonville is an executive vice president at Central National Bank, where he serves as the bank’s customer experience officer and treasury management supervisor. He received his BBA in economics and finance from Baylor University in 2009. In addition to his involvement with CASA, Bryan also serves on the Board of Directors for the Waco Community Band and the Baylor Line Foundation. In his free time, he enjoys running, music, and tennis. Jordan Hannah Board member since 2020 Jordan serves as an Assistant Director of Development for Baylor University and primarily supports fundraising efforts for the College of Arts & Sciences. He earned his B.A. in political science at Baylor and his M.Ed. in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia. Jordan and his wife, Sarah Kathryn, have two children and are active, covenant members of Highland Baptist Church. Jordan holds dear a commitment to public and community service and enjoys opportunities to contribute to the Baylor and Waco communities and their long-term success as close partners. Jose Muñiz Board member since 2021 Born and raised in Lubbock, TX. After high school I joined the TX Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq at the age of 20. After 6 years of the military I decided to attend college. I attended Texas State Technical College Harlingen for my academic courses. In 2013, I accepted a full time job with Texas State Technical College Harlingen. In 2014, I transferred to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where I earned a Bachelors of Multidisciplinary Degree. In 2015, I transferred to Texas State Technical College Waco for a job promotion. I earned my Master's Degree in Human Resources from Tarleton State University. When I'm not working you can find me outdoors running and training for my next race! I've been running since 2012. I've run several half-marathons and am currently training for my first FULL marathon that will take place in October 2021.

Christina Swanson Board member since 2017 Christina Swanson, CMP is the owner of Limelight Social, a marketing boutique catering to small businesses and non-profits. She has been part of the Greater Waco community for years serving in areas of economic development and hospitality. Christina dedicates her resources to missions focused on improving the lives of local women and children. She attended McLennan Community College before earning her Bachelor of Science from Tarleton State University. Her family resides in China Spring, TX. Christina is a member of Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, travelling, outdoor activities, and playing with her fur-babies.

Ryan “Slim” Thompson Board member since 2018 When Slim and his family moved to Waco in 2012, they began foster care and saw the value of someone speaking and advocating for your child's rights. They eventually adopted Jordan and Mateo, and are lifelong advocates for our foster kids here in McLennan County. Slim planted a church called Mosaic Waco in 2019 and loves tacos, drums, and good coffee.


CASA Staff

Anna Futral, Executive Director Though born and raised in Fredericksburg, Anna Futral has called Waco home since 2004. She is a graduate of Baylor University, where she received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and a Master of Taxation. She built her career as a Certified Public Accountant at JRBT, where she worked for over ten years, specializing in service to nonprofit clients, prior to joining CASA of McLennan County in May of 2017. In addition to her business acumen and administrative leadership skills, Anna brings to CASA a deep-seated passion for children in foster care. She and her husband, Trent, are former foster parents and adopted their three children from foster care in 2016. When she's not busy leading CASA forward or chasing her kids, ages 7, 8, and 9, Anna enjoys reading, spending time with good people, and working with her husband on their 120-year-old house in the heart of Waco. Rolanda Burns, Director of Advocacy Born and raised here in Waco, Texas, Rolanda Burns has lived in Waco most of her life. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Paul Quinn College. Rolanda's work experiences include several different jobs however her work at Child Protectives Services for over 14 years working with families and children is the reason why she chose CASA. Rolanda is married to Nathaniel and she has two adult children, Victor and Meagan, and 4 grandchildren, Jaelen, Caiden, Zoey, and Henry IV. When she is not busy at CASA and with her sorority community events, Rolanda enjoys working out, spending time with her grandchildren, and running/walking.

Chelsea Sanchez LMSW, Program Director Chelsea is a first-generation high school and college graduate. She is a Baylor University graduate and Licensed Master Social Worker with over 7 years of experience working with at-risk children, youth, refugees, and survivors of human trafficking. She has a diverse set of skills and experience including crisis intervention, case management, trauma-informed care, and training/management of volunteers, employees, and interns. She has provided various presentations and training sessions for conferences and coalitions.

Lucas Land, Director of Communication and Development Lucas Land has called Waco home since 2009. He graduated from Truett Seminary in 2008 with an M.Div after which his family moved to World Hunger Relief, Inc. as interns for a year. Lucas previously worked in the Technology and Grants Management Departments at Waco ISD. He has enjoyed finding ways to serve the Waco community through various city committees, non-profits, and boards around town. Lucas spends his free time with his wife, three kids, ages 15, 13, and 8, cat, dog, and 11 chickens. They enjoy camping, playing tabletop games, and playing music together.

Julie Abernathy, Program Assistant Julie retired from working as a legal secretary/legal assistant/paralegal for over 45 years. She is originally from Waco, but lived in Austin for 37 prior to returning to Waco in 2015. As a retiree, Julie knew she had to stay busy and work in an area that gives her purpose and joy each day. Julie has two grown children, Elizabeth and Jeffrey, who are both married and live in the Lake Travis area near Austin. Along with three gorgeous granddaughters (23, 17, and 17) and a recently adopted grandson (2), she stays very much involved in their lives. Julie can’t seem to stay idle, as she totally remodeled her home in Waco and is still making updates to either the yard or interior of her home.


Advocate Supervisors Tara Ashworth Tara Ashworth was born and raised in Waco, so this area is home to her. She has several years of experience working in child welfare as a CPS caseworker and as a foster care case manager for a private foster care agency. She and her husband have adopted their three boys ages 7, 6 and 2 from foster care. Most weekends you will find her spending time with them. They love to play baseball and watch movies together! They are a pretty silly bunch and have a lot of fun together. Rhonda Ayers Advocate Trainer and Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) Lead Rhonda Ayers relocated to Waco, TX July 2019, after working 25 years with children and families in Washington State. Rhonda has a Bachelor’s Degree with an emphasis in Family Law. While serving families, Rhonda developed and managed housing programs for youth transitioning out of foster care, families involved in child welfare, victims of domestic violence and worked with local law enforcement agencies developing community policing programs to better serve the community. Rehonda relocated to Waco where she began her career with CASA. When not advocating for children in foster care, Rhonda enjoys spending time with her two children exploring Texas and is an avid football fan. She can frequently be found enjoying the water with a good book in hand.

Sonya Cooper New Supervisor Mentor Sonya is married with three children—one son and two “fur-babies.” She moved to Waco in 2004 and began volunteering with a host of local non-profit agencies. Her experiences eventually led her to a career working with children and at-risk populations after graduating from Baylor. She has a passion for learning and loves the opportunities she has been given to gain knowledge about family law, psychology, and a number of other disciplines as a CASA supervisor. She and her family love spending time outdoors and exploring the terrain near their rural home. Karen Davis, LMSW A child of houseparents at Medina Children’s Home, in Medina, Texas, Karen Davis developed her awareness of kids in need at an early age. She later worked summer church camps and spent a year being a houseparent herself at Star Ranch in Ingram, Texas. She went on to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Shortly after graduation, she married her husband Shawn, and the couple was married just short of 17 years before he passed away from colon cancer. Shawn served as a youth minister most of their marriage, and Karen had many opportunities to invest in children and adolescents across Texas and Louisiana. After Shawn’s passing, Karen attended Baylor University and obtained her Masters of Social Work degree while raising their young son, Kage. She is an LMSW and recently celebrated her two-year anniversary with CASA of McLennan County in April 2021.

John Moorman Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) Liaison Born in Oklahoma and transplanted to Waco via Long Beach, California in 1986, John Moorman has called Waco home ever since. He is a graduate of West Coast Bible & Seminary where he received his Bachelor of General Ministries. Previously, John worked as a youth pastor and children’s director gaining 18 years of experience working with youth and their families. In the Fall of 2015 he joined the Department of Family and Protective Services and became aware of CASA through his work there. He joined CASA in 2018. John married his wife Leslie in 2014 and they have 3 boys and 1 girl. The oldest son is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps. His two youngest boys and new baby daughter were all adopted through foster care. When John is not busy, he enjoys collecting and playing board games with friends and family, and competitive eating (though he only competes with his family). Kimberly Witt As a native of Central Texas, Kimberly Witt has worked in a social work capacity since 2008. She is a graduate of Tarleton State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Criminal Justice and a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Kimberly worked for McLennan County CSCD for three years as a probation officer supervising a specialized caseload of sex offenders. She worked at Counseling and Forensic Services as an intern and counselor in Virginia for two years. Most recently, her experience comes from working for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for 6 years in the roles of investigator, alternative response worker, and conservatorship specialist. She brings to CASA the knowledge she gained while working in the system. Kimberly has always had a passion for protecting children and helping families. When she is not advocating for our most vulnerable population, she enjoys spending time with her family and repurposing furniture as a hobby.


THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS! SPECIAL THANKS! OVER $20,000 Baylor Kappa Alpha Theta

Optimist Club of Waco

Cooper Foundation

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation

CHAMPIONS $5,000 - $15,000 Baylor Solid Gold Neighbor

Kent Distributors, Inc.

John and Karen Keith Foundation

TFNB Your Bank For Life

PROTECTORS $1,000-$5,000 American Bank

The First National Bank of Central Texas

Helena Pinson

Melanie Bauer

Bryan Fonville

Cody Schrank

Baylor Scott & White

Grande Communications

Matt Smith

Sally Bledsoe

In-N-Out Burger Foundation

STRATA Trust Company

Ann & Jay Campbell

Magnolia Foundation

Waco Foundation

Central National bank

Lacy McNamee

Walmart Return Center #9153

Community Bank & Trust

Mike Mellina

Wardlaw Claims Service

Dupuy Oxygen

Mike and Lorie Milam

VOICES $500-$1,000 Alexandra Jones Adesina

Camille Johnson

Atmos Energy

JRBT

Baylor University

Karen Keith

Bird Kultgen Ford

Scott Livesay

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Law Office of Felipe Martinez

Stephen Carl

McLennan County Jury Fund

The Carlson Law Firm, P.C.

McLennan County Young Lawyer’s Association

Central Texas Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers

Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee, PLLC

Bud and Ramona Cooper

Oakley's Texas Bar & Grill

Ann Cunningham

Paul and Jane Meyer Family Foundation

Nancy Davis

Lisa Shatto

The Ray & Ellen Deaver Charitable Trust

Specialty Restoration of Texas

Virginia Dupuy

Square Roofing

Mandi and Cary Dupuy

Christina Swanson

Kay Goodrich

Gordon Swanson

H&B Packing

Bob and Nicole Woodard

Holy Ship Giving Fund

Waco SECC

Home State County Mutual

Waco Syrian Lebanese Association

Jennifer Grant, DDS

Waco Towing & Wrecker

John Houston Custom Homes


YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE CASA volunteers are screened and highly trained and then appointed by judges to represent and advocate for a child’s best interests in the child protection system. CASA volunteers are each assigned to help one child or set of siblings at a time, so they can focus on giving that child or sibling group the individualized advocacy and attention they need.

Go to becomeacasa.org to get started!

Spread the Word! Sign up for our email newsletter, follow us on social media, and most importantly tell your friends and family about the critical work that CASA does to serve children and families in crisis in our community. Know someone who would make a great CASA?

Nominate them by going to nominateacasa.org.

As our organization continues to grow its capacity to serve every child in McLennan County that needs a CASA, we will have to grow our sources of income to pay for the staff and resources that make that possible. YOU can join us in reaching that goal by becoming a donor.

Go to casaforeverychild.org/give to give today!


Connect With Us To learn more visit www.casaforeverychild.org

@CASAMcLennan

facebook.com/CASAMcLennan

@CASAMcLennan

Make a Difference in a Child's Life!

1208 N 5th St. Waco, TX 76707 | casaforeverychild.org | (254) 304-7982