The History of CASA of McLennan and Hill Counties
In 1976, in Waco, Texas, a grassroots effort sprang to life with a group of professionals who witnessed how children in the foster care system were disadvantaged by adult rules, guidelines, red tape, and limited resources. These doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officials, and social workers met to discuss a solution to the growing number of child abuse cases and children who kept falling through the cracks of the system intended to protect them. As a result, the Waco Rape Crisis Center was founded and ultimately expanded to an umbrella agency with four programs including CASA of McLennan County. A handful of community members completed the first advocate training class in 1994. Since that time, the program expanded to McLennan and Hill Counties and held multiple volunteer advocate trainings on an annual basis.
In 2012, CASA of McLennan and Hill Counties became an independent 501(c)3 charitable organization, operating independently of the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children. Today, we are one of over 70 programs affiliated through the Texas CASA network, with approximately 80 volunteers advocating for almost 200 children annually. However, with more than 600 children in the foster care systems of the counties we serve, we need many more volunteers and supporters in order to reach our program Vision of having an advocate for every child who needs one.
Child victims in McLennan and Hill Counties range in age from newborn to 18 years and come from all socio-economic statuses, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. Any party, including Child Protective Services, attorneys, parents, and CASA itself may request that CASA be appointed by the Child Protection Court Judge to a case. CASA works collaboratively, but independently, with other parties to the case and remains until the case is resolved, typically 12-18 months.
As a result of CASA’s efforts, children experience a smoother transition and expedited timeline through the foster care system, which conserves taxpayer resources. Our program has made a significant impact over the past 20 years, and we are working to double our efforts over the next five years so that even more children can ultimately thrive in safe, permanent homes. Join us today!