Hometown Highlight: CASA for the Highland Lakes Area
About CASA for the Highland Lakes Area
Established in 1991 as the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Burnet County, the organization started with one volunteer and two children that were in foster care. Judge Clayton Evans knew there was a growing need within the community for this type of organization and his courts. The organization grew to serve Llano, San Saba and Blanco counties; eventually serving Lampasas County in 1994, which resulted in changing the name to CASA for the Highland Lakes Area.
CASA for the Highland Lakes Area has served nearly 42,000 children with the assistance of more than 426 volunteers over the years. Their purpose is to advocate for children who come into the court system due to abuse and/or neglect. With the child’s best interest at the forefront of their goals, they strive to provide a voice for the children so they can grow in a safe environment.
“We follow a diversity and inclusive strategic plan that keeps our program accountable. We work together and think like a team. We are persistent and have boosted our outreach efforts,” said Brittany Grubbs, Executive Director of the CASA for the Highland Lakes. “Our staff is always ready to educate others and share our mission with the community. We have recently increased our number of Advocate Supervisors on staff which has given them more time to focus on the needs of their volunteers and the needs of children being served.
Their goals for the next few years are to work on increasing visibility and build stronger relationships within the counties that they serve.
“I believe that an increase in physical presence in the counties we serve especially would assist in awareness and volunteer recruitment from some of the more rural communities,” said Grubbs.
Not only has CASA for the Highland Lakes impacted the lives of the children they serve, but they have impacted the community tremendously by saving county taxpayers over $700,000 a year by providing advocates for more than 400 children a year.
CASA for the Highland Lakes is always looking for volunteers, volunteers can have a life changing impact on the children who are affected by abuse and neglect.
“Volunteers must be at least 21 years old and be able to pass criminal background checks. Verbal and written communication is a must, and they must possess the ability to be objective and non-judgmental. Volunteers go through an extensive 30-hour hybrid training that consists of both online and in-person training,” said Grubbs. “Once training is completed the advocates are sworn in by the honorable Judge Cheryll Mabray. They are appointed by a judge to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the counties have a voice in the court and advocate for their best interest. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life to give the most precious gift to children in the foster care system: their time and talents.”