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Help Create a Happier Holiday Season for Children in Foster Care & Their Families

Stephenville, Texas – The holiday season is in full swing. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah and
Christmas and Kwanzaa, there’s something for almost everyone to celebrate and feel a part of a
community. While these holidays help bring people closer together, this can be a difficult time
for children and families involved in the child welfare system who are not able to spend this time

When a family is in crisis and becomes involved in the child welfare system, the children are
often removed from their homes and placed in foster care, many times far from everyone and
everything they know. This holiday season, CASA for the Cross Timbers Area urges you to be
mindful of the children who are spending the holidays away from those they love, and consider
how you can help make a difference.

“December is meant to be a festive time to spend with your friends and family,” said Mindy
Wooley, Executive Director of CASA for the Cross Timbers Area. “Too often, though, children
in foster care must spend the holidays away from their family and home community, which can
deprive them of many precious memories that can make the holiday season so special.”
This is where Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers can step in and make the
most impact. Appointed by a judge, CASA volunteers’ first priority on cases is to advocate for
keeping families together whenever safe and possible. When that is not possible, CASA
volunteers recommend that children live with another relative or close family friend to ensure
that they can maintain connections to their family and community.

Take this true story for an example of the impact of CASA volunteers. When three young
siblings were placed in foster care, there was little chance that they would return home to their
mom, Crystal. She was estranged from her family and had minimal resources – and after her
children were removed, she found herself alone when she needed support more than ever.
But CASA volunteers John and Jenifer believed in her. John, Jenifer, and the caseworker reached
out to some of Crystal’s family members for support. It was a long road, but with CASA and the
caseworker’s help, Crystal’s support network went from a few in the beginning to a strong
network of family and friends.

With this newfound support, Crystal went above and beyond in completing the state’s
requirements for her children to return home. She got her own apartment and a full-time job, and
embraced the family supporting her and the kids.

Today, Crystal and her kids are enjoying a routine as a reunited family. They get to spend the
holidays at home, together, creating new, happy memories.

Stories like these are the reason why CASA volunteers are so imperative in the lives of children
and families in the child welfare system. They need someone who can get to know them and
their unique situation, advocate for them, and help ensure they are surrounded by caring people
who will support them even after their case ends.

“CASA volunteers stand by children’s side while they are in foster care, providing a consistent
presence and ensuring they are kept safe and their needs are met,” said Wooley. “They also help
make sure children stay meaningfully connected with their families and communities.”
According to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), in 2022, 38,294
children were in foster care in Texas alone – 190 in our community. CASA for the Cross Timbers
Area is challenging more members of the community to become a part of the solution by
becoming a CASA volunteer.

CASA volunteers get to know a child or sibling group on an individual level and speak with
other important people in the child’s life, such as their parents and family, teachers, therapists,
foster parents, and more. With the information they gather, they develop a holistic understanding
of their circumstances and needs and make recommendations to the court. They advocate first for
family reunification whenever safe and possible. They also help find and engage family members
and other adults who can serve as a network of support for the child and their parent or parents.
“Each year, more children enter the foster care system and don’t get the opportunity to spend the
holiday season at home with their loved ones,” Wooley said. “We need more members of the
community to step up and get involved. You can make a difference this holiday season.”
Consider becoming a CASA volunteer to look out for a child and give them and their family a
better chance at a brighter future – and the happy holiday season they deserve. To learn more,
visit or contact our office at 254.965.6610