CASA Announces Pilot Program to Expand Advocacy Efforts Beyond Child Welfare System
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is expanding its advocacy efforts for children beyond the child welfare system this fall. The organization will work with justice-involved youth and truancy courts in Montgomery County, in collaboration with Judge Scharlene W. Valdez and Judge Wayne L. Mack. This pilot initiative is the first of its kind in the state of Texas.
“Child advocacy in any setting is at the core of what we do,” said Ann Marie Ronsman, President and CEO of CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County. “CASA Advocates build connections with children, families, teachers, and medical providers. They ensure children and families get the resources they need. Justice-involved youth and truancy provides an additional opportunity to leverage the skills and experience of our organization.”
This initiative will allow CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County to serve new populations of children and help families. The organization’s volunteer Advocates will work closely with justice-involved youth and truancy courts to ensure that children and families receive the support and connection to the resources they need to succeed and thrive.
“As the Juvenile Justice Court Presiding Judge, I believe that justice-involved youth will benefit significantly from an Advocate’s involvement, not only within the confines of the Juvenile Justice Court but also within the youth’s life overall,” said The Honorable Scharlene W. Valdez of Montgomery County Court at Law #6. “First, I envision that the Advocate will profoundly affect the youth’s life through a strong mentorship relationship. Second, I believe that the Advocate will add greater knowledge to the availability of community resources for the youth. Finally, I am confident that such involvement with the Advocate will foster a spirit of change within the youth, resulting in an optimistic future for them.”
CASA Child Advocates is Montgomery County’s only organization appointed by the court to advocate for children who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. Advocates provide valuable information to the judge and others involved in the case to help ensure a child’s best interest is being met. CASA has been serving the children and families of Montgomery County for the last 31 years and has provided volunteers for one hundred percent of the children in foster care since 2015. CASA volunteers offer a safe, stable, and consistent presence in a child’s life during an unsettling time; they stay by a child’s side throughout the case.
There are CASA programs in other states already providing advocacy for justice-involved youth or for youth involved in the truancy courts. CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is the first CASA program to implement this pilot in the state of Texas. Experienced Advocate and Case Supervisor Mike Quinn will lead the pilot initiative for CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County.
“With CASA’s involvement, the hope for justice-involved youth is that they gain an understanding of their current adversities, realize that those adversities do not define their future, acquire the requisite skills for success in the Juvenile Justice Court, and grow to become self-confident in their abilities,” explained Judge Valdez. “This will enable them to conquer their adversities and become positive contributors to society.”
To learn more about CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County or the Justice-Involved Youth and Truancy Advocacy Pilot Program, email Info@CASASpeaks4Kids.com or call (936) 441-5437.