An organization in Collin County called Court Appointed Special Advocates, also known as CASA, has a new executive director at the helm as the chapter heads into a year of unprecedented growth and need.
Tricia Clifton, who took over as executive director at the beginning of April, says her primary goal is to ensure that CASA continues to serve 100 percent of the abused and neglected children in Collin County who are placed into the foster care system.
They do that by assigning them a court appointed special advocate, who is a volunteer trained to be a voice for a child stuck in a situation they didn’t choose to be in. It’s a situation Clifton’s experienced first-hand.
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“I myself was actually a child that was in the system. I was a failure-to-thrive child taken away from my family and placed in the foster care system," Clifton said. "Because of people that fought for me and were on my side, I was adopted and my life is what it is now."
After bouncing around to multiple foster homes as a baby, Clifton was placed up for adoption at 18 months old. While she doesn’t remember much from that time, she says she has thought about what her life would’ve looked like had an advocate not helped her.
“It gives me hope. I feel empowered. I feel I know what the outcome could be whether it’s that we’re able to reunify them with their home or their parents or maybe that’s not the best place for them. But the best thing about this organization is that we make sure that child has a safe place to call home,” Clifton said.
Last year, CASA in Collin County served 555 kids. By April 26 of this year, they’ve already worked with 427. Those numbers put them on track to far surpass last year’s need.
“You know it’s wonderful to have all this business coming in, new businesses, new places, new people, but along with it come the struggles as well. With more people, you get more cases,” Clifton said.
To help with the need, CASA in Collin County has doubled its office staff in the last year and is actively recruiting and training new volunteers.
Right now it’s one of three organizations in the running to win $100,000 through an online Reliant Gives promotional campaign, which Clifton says could cover a large portion of this year’s increased costs. Supporters can vote for CASA of Collin County online once a day starting Monday and the voting runs through May 6.