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Volunteer Resources & Continuing Education Opportunities

It’s easy to keep up with your in-service hours and learn something new. There are great videos, books, and documentaries to immerse yourself in. Don’t forget to log your in-service hours in Optima under the Training Tab. Stay up-to-date with continuing education training opportunities at our Events Calendar.

2018 Study of Legal Representation in Child Protective Services Cases
In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 7 which included a requirement to conduct a statewide study and produce a report on legal representation in CPS cases across Texas.

3 in 30: A Complete Approach to Better Care for Children
All children who come into DFPS care need a good review of their physical and behavioral health needs right away. With the help of our medical partners and caregivers of children in foster care, CPS is launching a new practice called 3 in 30. 3 in 30 combines three critical tools for assessing the medical, behavioral, and developmental strengths and needs of children and youth entering DFPS custody.

Adverse Childhood Experiences
Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Care & Custody: A Novel of Three Children at Risk (Book)
Care & Custody reveals the trauma these children experience firsthand in their desperate quest to find safety and happiness inside a terribly broken system. Martha Gershun has spent her career advocating for at-risk children. She recently retired from Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), where she served as Executive Director for seven years. During her tenure Jackson County CASA grew to become one of the largest CASA agencies in the country, advocating for more than 1,250 children each year. She also served as a Board member of the Missouri CASA Association and the National CASA Association in Seattle, Washington.

CASA College
CASA College e-learning courses are self-paced and available on demand, making it easy for you to learn on your own schedule. The CASA College Learning Management System (LMS) is the new home for Texas CASA’s e-learning courses and other online training materials. It allows you to access our trainings and resources online, when and where you need them, on any type of computer or mobile device.

Child Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) Assessment
The Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment is a comprehensive trauma-informed behavioral health evaluation and communication tool.It is intended to prevent duplicate assessments by multiple parties, decrease unnecessary psychological testing, aid in identifying placement and treatment needs, and inform case planning decisions. CANS assessments help decision-making, drive service planning, facilitate quality improvement, and allow for outcomes monitoring.

Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence 2018
Each day, the safety and well-being of children across the US are endangered by child abuse and neglect. Many of these children live in homes that are experiencing domestic violence. This manual serves to help support caseworkers by providing background and principles that can be applied in working with families experiencing domestic violence.

Communicating Effectively in the Child Welfare System
Difficult situations create stressful emotions and distance between people working for the same goal – the good of a child. This webinar discusses 12 strategies to improve CASA’s interactions with others by addressing internal emotions and reactions and communication strategies to connect with others.

Continuing Education Podcast from Texas CASA
CASA on the Go, is a continuing education podcast for CASA Volunteers and staff. Through short, dynamic episodes, this podcast connects Advocates with subject matter experts discussing topical issues connected to child welfare. Now streaming on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Continuing Education Resource Library

Conversations with CASA: Kristene Blackstone Part 1 (Video)
Associate Commissioner for Child Protective Services Kristene Blackstone sits down with Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs to talk about the department’s successes over the past two years under her leadership and areas where they are still working to improve.

Conversations with CASA: Kristene Blackstone Part 2 (Video)
Associate Commissioner for CPS Kristene Blackstone is back for another installment of Conversations with CASA to talk specifically about the Department’s initiatives to respond to and protect youth in foster care who run away. In Fiscal Year 2017, roughly 1,700 youth ran away. The Department recovered 1,400 of the youth and is working to create wraparound support to prevent future runaways.

Education of Children & Youth Placed in Residential Treatment Round Table Report Issued September 2018
There are about 1,700 students in foster care who are placed in RTC’s in Texas at any point in time. The primary goal of the round table discussion centered on how the child welfare and education systems can improve coordination and communication regardless of where or how the student attends school. This included developing a plan to address education, the provision of special education in the least restrictive environment, education decision-making, and planning for transitions.

Emily’s Story: A Year in the Life of a Foster Child (video)
My name is Emily. Believe it or not, a dragon lives in my house, and I never know when he might wake up. Some people came to take me away…they said it was to save me from the dragon. But people who have never fought a dragon don’t understand. You can’t just leave. You can’t just run. Everywhere I went, there were new faces. New places. New dragons to watch out for. I tried being quiet, and when that didn’t work I tried being loud. Of all the things I tried, nothing helped me stop the dragons. But then I met my CASA volunteer, Maria, and everything started to change…MEET EMILY.

Experiences of LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare Systems
Young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) enter the child welfare system for reasons similar to those of other children and youth—that is, their birth families cannot provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home. In some cases, families reject, neglect, or abuse young people when they learn that they identify as LGBT or are questioning their romantic/sexual orientation or gender identity.

Falling Down by Daniel P. Kelly (Book)
Falling Down is a true story of a teenager who went down the wrong path and a family who struggled to keep up. It is meant to serve as proof to those families and children who cannot see a way out of a difficult situation that they are in and that they are not alone. There is reason to keep going and what they are going through is temporary.

The author, Daniel P. Kelly, is also an Advocate with our program. is a hub of publicly available resources related to the Federal Family First Act. It includes a variety of materials, resources, webinars and recordings, and is designed for easy searching. Users can search by keywords, resource type, topic, location or by the partner that provided the resource. The site is managed by FosterClub. Resources on the site were contributed by 18 partner organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, ABA, Annie E. Casey, Family Focused Treatment Association, Generations United, NCSL, NICWA and NGA.
How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime - Nadine Burke Harris (Video)
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

Keeping the Urgency for Permanency
The vision of Texas CASA is a safe and positive future for all Texas children. Turning this vision into a reality starts here with you. This resource book is your road map to ensuring that all Texas children are given the opportunities they deserve by turning the spotlight onto an often overlooked group – children and youth in long-term foster care.

Key Elements of Resiliency for CASA Staff & Volunteers
Working with child abuse victims can take an emotional toll on volunteers and staff who not only see the impact of abuse and neglect on children but also struggle with the impact of a broken system on children who need to heal. Understanding and recognizing the influence of this work on our own lives is key to identifying strategic practices that can help us continue to do the work we find so worthwhile. Webinar participants will be able to identify two to three things they can immediately implement to build their resilience for child advocacy.

National CASA
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, together with its state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States can be safe, have a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events.

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute
This is a comprehensive list of free webinars that are sponsored by a range of organizations, including NCWWI.

Parental Child Safety Placement (PCSP) Resource Guide
Understand when to consider a PCSP versus a removal, and how to evaluate the PCSP caregiver and household, obtain program director approval, and complete the initial assessment and agreement. The guide also provides information on how to extend and/or end a PCSP.

TBRI 101: A Self-Guided Course in Trust-Based Relationships
This course offers an informal, yet thorough approach to Trust-Based Relational Intervention®, an evidence-based intervention for children from hard places of abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Over nearly eight hours of instruction, Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross guide the viewer through the principles and strategies of TBRI® and offer practical tips for implementation. Currently only Part 1 that covers Understanding Trauma, TBRI® Empowering Principles and Connecting Principles is available for CASA programs.

Texas CASA
Texas CASA’s mission is to support local CASA volunteer advocacy programs and to advocate for effective public policy for children in the child protection system.

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)

Texas Education Agency (TEA)
The Texas Education Agency is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education in the state of Texas. It helps deliver education to more than 5 million students.
Foster Care & Students Success - Texas School Foster Care Liaisons
Each school district and open-enrollment charter school in Texas is required to appoint at least one employee to act as a foster care liaison officer. The liaison facilitates the enrollment in or transfer to a public or open-enrollment charter school of any child in the district or area served by the charter school who is in the conservatorship of the state.

Texas Family Code

Texas Network of Youth Services - Youth Engagement Toolkit
Youth engagement is a strategy to value and include the insights of youth in service planning and delivery. Often youth and their families know best what they need and how to make services work for them.

The REACH Strategies Guidebook
Get to know the REACH framework (Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognition, Heart) and accesses approaches and activities you can use to help strengthen students’ academic motivation.

Tuition and Fee Waiver (Video)
Learn more about the Tuition and Fee Waiver for foster youth currently or formerly in the conservatorship of DFPS and for those adopted from DFPS.

TYPS (Texas Youth Permanency Study): Pilot Study Findings March 2018
The Texas Youth Permanency Study builds evidence to better understand the realities of former foster youth entering young adulthood. In doing so, we seek to find new ways of understanding permanency that will create foundations for youth to thrive in young adulthood regardless of how they leave foster care.

What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?
Being involved in the child welfare system means becoming familiar with a long list of acronyms. One of these acronyms is ICWA – the Indian Child Welfare Act. Here’s a brief history of how this law came to be, and how it influences our court.

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