2017 Workshops

New This Year: Workshop Selection

Conference attendees selected their conference schedule during the online registration process. This means the institute and workshops you selected while registering will be the ones you attend onsite. Prior to the conference, you will receive a reminder email with your conference schedule that you selected during online registration – please print this schedule for your convenience.


Thursday, Oct. 19 | 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm

Understanding Trauma-informed Care Across Systems: A Whole Child Perspective
Sponsored by State Water Heaters
CEUs: 3
Child advocates often discuss trauma-informed care with the focus only on the child welfare system. Yet many of the children we work with are involved in different systems outside of foster care, including the juvenile justice system, the education system and the mental and medical health systems. If we truly want the children and youth that we serve to heal and recover from the trauma they have experienced, we must look at the whole child. In this institute, Dr. Casey Call will discuss the importance of trauma-informed care and community collaboration in working to set children on the right path for success. Additionally, experts from these different systems will walk through trauma-informed care training, requirements and services in their settings – ultimately giving participants the tools they need advocate for children in all different environments. Casey Call, PhD, Assistant Director of Education, The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development; Diane Ewing, Mental Health Policy Fellow, Texans Care for Children; Matt Smith, LPC-S, Director of Mental Health Services, Williamson County Juvenile Services; Mary Armstrong, LPC, LCDC, Senior Manager of Training, STAR Health


Creating a Map for Engaging Your Board in Fundraising
Whether a board is new to fundraising or stalled out somewhere along the way, ensuring the financial resources necessary to achieve the mission is a crucial leadership function. Learn why board members are often intimidated or overwhelmed by the job of raising money, what you can do to help, and the importance of building a solid crew. We’ll discuss resources, myths and misconceptions, and different kinds of maps and plans to set a course for more vibrant participation in fundraising. Sally Blue, Coach & Consultant, Sally Blue Consulting

Trauma Informed Care with LGBTQ Youth: Skills & Strategies for Empowering LGBTQ Youth
CEUs: 3
LGBTQ youth experience nearly every form of maltreatment at disproportionately higher rates compared to their peers. Given these high rates of trauma and abuse, attention must be given to the development of trauma informed responses and interventions that address the unique experiences and resources of LGBTQ youth. This institute seeks to better equip advocates to provide empowering services to LGBTQ youth and their families in the aftermath of trauma, and will utilize an interactive and experiential approach to explore a number of factors associated with the well-being and safety of this specific group.

Based on the latest research examining the relationship between family rejection and suicide, depression, risky sex, and risky substance abuse, participants will be provided with examples of what acceptance and rejection look like and how to assess each. In addition to exploring strategies aimed at enhancing family acceptance and affirmation, this institute will also provide participants with strategies and skills aimed at helping youth to process things like family rejection, stigma, discrimination, and bullying. Adam McCormick, Associate Professor of Social Work, St. Edward’s University

Leadership Lab
Sponsored by Elkay
Join the author of Ask Powerful Questions and co-founder of We!™ Will Wise, along with other leaders from the network, to explore your own potential in this highly interactive Leadership Lab. In Leadership Lab, you will practice and develop a mindset to fully lead no matter what your position is within your organization. This is an institute about all the stuff we are expected to know — but are never taught. The We & Me Model will serve as the guide to unpack your own leadership styles and mindsets. You will gain the skills and tools needed to be able to ask powerful questions, listen deeply to self and others, and lead authentically from any position within any organization. We will also delve into how our own communication inhibits what we are really trying to say and work to understand the mindsets that create communication breakdowns so that you can create communication breakthroughs. Will Wise, M.Ed., Co-Founder We!

workshops A

friday, oct. 20 | 10:00 Am – 11:15 am

Breaking the Chains of Child Abuse
Discover how a united organization of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), in conjunction with established state and local organizations, can be a critical part of the health and well-being of abused children. See how engaging BACA helps a child’s health, self-worth and confidence, in addition to reducing anxiety, improving their communication, and increasing their sense of safety, independence and stability. Attendees will also learn how these characteristics can sustain children throughout adulthood and create a brighter future for Texas kids. Curt “Buzz” PhelpsAgency Liaison, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA); Hoss, PR Officer, BACA – Houston Chapter

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Getting It All Done for Executive Directors & Program Directors
The roles of CASA Executive Director and Program Director are challenging – requiring many different hats and effective time management to successfully oversee and manage multiple projects and tasks occurring at all times. Hear from a panel of seasoned executive directors from across the state as they answer both prepared and audience questions about time management and the focus needed to accomplish all the essential tasks within a CASA program. The panel and moderator will provide tools for annual/monthly planning in addition to allowing time for topic-based group discussions and opportunities to share information among attendees. Stephanie Cash, Executive Director, Hill Country CASA; Sherri Gideon, Executive Director, CASA of Denton County; Debbie Dugger, Executive Director, CASA of Liberty/Chambers Counties; Jenny Bratton, Executive Director, CASA of Navarro County

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PMC 101 – Exploring Permanency Options
CEUs: 1.25
Children in Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC), or the long-term care of the state face significant challenges – putting their chance at a safe and loving permanent home on the line. This session will explore each of the permanency options for children and youth in PMC and provide the tools for effective advocacy so that advocates can maintain urgency for reaching permanence, and better work with attorney ad litems and CPS to “think outside of the box” for these vulnerable children. Amy Harding, Volunteer Coordinator & Case Supervisor, & Judy Houston, Case Supervisor, Hill Country CASA

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Culturally Competent Case Advocacy for All Children
CEUs: 1.25
CASA volunteers and supervisors in this workshop will be encouraged to support each other in the work of culturally competent case advocacy – utilizing each other as resources so that outcomes are more equitable for all children served. After some reflections on culture, encountering cultural differences, and institutional racism, attendees will learn how to promote an openness about inherited cultural stereotypes and the vital role they can play in equipping their community to address the needs of diverse populations and work towards more equitable outcomes for all children served. Dr. Sarah Hogue, Adjunct Professor, Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences, St. Edwards University

Enhancing Advocate Understanding of the Legal System to Create Better Outcomes
CEUs: 1.25
The legal system can be daunting. Though being an expert in the legal field is not at the core of what being a CASA is about, legal expertise and knowledge can make advocates feel more confident and less intimidated by the courtroom processes. This presentation is designed to educate both CASA staff and advocates on legal topics to further their understanding of the legal system and ultimately increase their effectiveness as a CASA. Maura Messer, Casework Supervisor, CASA of the Pines, Inc.; Christopher Barley, Advocate Specialist, CASA of the Pines, Inc.; Amber Bewley, J.D., Assistant County Attorney

Half the Battle: Finding & Sustaining Quality Volunteers
Our nation’s greatest resource is people, and a nonprofit’s greatest resource is people who volunteer. But what makes a person want to volunteer, and more importantly, what makes them want to stay? Participants will take a look at sustainability, the workplace environment, and other factors that affect volunteerism so that CASA programs can spend less time training new volunteers and more time on delivering quality advocacy. By the end of this workshop, participants will know what attracts qualified volunteers, what keeps them engaged in the mission and how to improve volunteer relationships. Dr. Diane Milliken Garza, PhD, Nonprofit Consultant; Emilio Barrera, Recruitment & Public Relations Coordinator, CASA of Cameron & Willacy Counties

The Importance of Normalcy for Children in Foster Care
Children in DFPS care need the opportunity for new experiences that support their growth and development, and help shape their individuality without making their trauma history the core of their identity. In this workshop, the STAR Health Foster Care Medicaid will focus on how to meet children where they are at when they come into care – determining what their historical “normal” is and working with the child to transition into care, treatment, healing and growth. This workshop aims to define normalcy and the reasonable and prudent parent standard, while also providing information on the developmental stages of children and the benefits of childhood activities to a child’s well being; mental health; and social, emotional and developmental growth. Mary Armstrong, LPC, LCDC, Senior Manager of Training, STAR Health

Download Handout 1 | Download Handout 2

workshops b

friday, oct. 20 | 1:00 Pm – 2:15 pm

Angel Flight & CASA Partnership – Taking Advocacy to New Heights
Many CASA programs face difficulties when advocating for children placed far from their local jurisdictions. Visitation, pre-placement home assessments, school functions, meetings, and most importantly, keeping an advocate on the case, are all more difficult when children are placed far away. However, an exciting new partnership is revolutionizing the way CASA serves these children. Dallas CASA and Angel Flight, a nonprofit organization that provides free humanitarian flights, have joined together to provide volunteer pilots, private planes and fuel to fly CASA volunteers and staff to long-distance placements. Dallas CASA will present on this unique partnership that was named the 2016 National CASA Award Winner for Promising Practices and discuss how to make it a reality for your program. Chad Frymire, Program Director of Projects & Partnerships, Dallas CASA; David Setzer, Angel Flight pilot and board member, Texas CASA

Minimizing Trauma with a Courthouse Facility Dog
The trauma children in care have experienced often leaves them stuck in fight, flight or freeze mode and unable to trust people. CASA of Titus, Camp & Morris Counties has a proven method of working with children that reduces traumatic experience in the courtroom, therapy sessions, forensic interviews and parent/child visits – and her name is Enya. Enya is the CASA program’s first Courthouse Facility Dog, and is doing phenomenal work of putting children at ease and empowering them in the courtroom and other settings. Join the program, Canine Companions, and of course Enya, as they cover all of your questions from A to Z to figure out if a Courthouse Facility Dog is right for your program and the process of obtaining one. Michelle Cobern, Executive Director, CASA of Titus, Camp & Morris Counties; Sarah McCracken, Program Manager, Canine Companions for Independence; Enya, Courthouse Facility Dog

Beyond Tomorrow: Sustainable Leadership for Your CASA Program
CEUs: 1.25
How do we know that the course we are setting now will keep the ship steady years down the road? More than succession planning, sustainable leadership is about being ready for emergencies while thinking about the long term. This workshop covers what you need to know to be able to nurture the kind of skills and institutional knowledge organizations need to thrive through transitions, leadership changes and sometimes-stormy seas. Attendees will not only discuss succession planning but also address potential roadblocks and outline potential solutions based on real world case studies. Sally Blue, Coach & Consultant, Sally Blue Consulting

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The Missing Piece of the Trauma Conversation
CEUs: 1.25
Child welfare advocates, including CASA, have been engaged in the trauma-informed care conversation for many years, yet there has been a missing aspect of the conversation – race-based trauma. Without recognizing the impact of race-based trauma on individuals, child welfare professionals and CASA cannot truly build trauma-informed care networks that work to treat the whole person. Combining video, lecture and group discussion, this workshop will delve into what race-based trauma means; and lead participants in a discussion about race-based trauma, the impact on family engagement, and the importance of acknowledging this often-ignored type of trauma. Tanya Rollins, CPS State Disproportionality Manager, Texas DFPS

Understanding Experiences of Trauma for Children with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities
Sponsored by Amerigroup
Research shows that children with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability (IDD) are over-represented in the child welfare system and impacted by traumatic events differently than typically developing children. This session will cover a research-supported approach for helping these children move towards recovery and mental health wellness, and help CASA volunteers and staff improve their advocacy for this vulnerable population by having a better understanding of the complex experiences they face. Attendees will leave with strategies to strengthen protective factors for children with an IDD and their families. Leah Davies, LMSW, Program Manager, UT Center for Disability Studies

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Assessing Reunification Using Structured Decision Making Tools
In early 2018, CPS will be implementing Structured Decision Making (SDM) to assess families’ readiness for unification and whether or not there is a need for continued services after the child has been reunited with the parent. SDM suite of tools will be used to guide caseworkers and CASA volunteers in their support of the child and family, and decision making process when making recommendations in court. This workshop, presented by CPS, will introduce the reunification and risk assessment tools and cover how and when these tools will be used to support CASA’s case management decisions when determining when to reunify a child with the parent and determining the risks and need for continued involvement with the family. Carol Self, Division Administrator for Permanency, Texas DFPS

Teens Rule the World! – Effective Communication with Teens
Teens have their own communication style, impacted by living in an Internet, video game and cell phone culture. Additionally, teens in foster care often experience trauma which can impact their ability to communicate. While learning to understand and communicate with teens can seem daunting, it is a necessary skill for advocates working with older youth. This workshop will give you insight into the effects of trauma on your CASA teen’s ability to communicate. Participants will first learn best practices for decoding your teen’s communication style, and then explore the different communication styles these youth need for healthy development. Anna Muñoz, Permanency Supervisor, Texas CASA

Building Adoption Competent Communities through Best Practices & Collaboration
CEUs: 1.25
When children exit DFPS care through adoption or another permanency option, it is the role of all parties to ensure the families are set up for success and have access to needed services to continue to provide a stable placement for years to come. In addition to discovering what current community services are available, participants will gain a better understanding of the struggles faced by adoptive and guardianship families, the disparities that exist among this population, and what can be done to ensure your community is adoption competent – so that no child leaving DFPS care has to come back and can instead thrive in a loving, permanent home. Jillian Bonacquisti, Foster/Adoption Development Lead Specialist, Texas DFPS

workshops c

friday, oct. 20 | 2:45 Pm – 4:00 pm

Engaging the Faith Community to Help Children & Families
Together, the child welfare system and CASA can create sustainable change for families in crisis by connecting with an often underutilized resource – the faith communities. This workshop is designed to give you practical strategies on how to engage these groups to help meet the needs of children in the child welfare system. Attendees will hear solutions and tactics to recruit and retain CASA volunteers and find and engage faith partner ambassadors that can help foster connections with these communities. Felicia Mason-Edwards, Division Administrator for Faith-based Programs, Texas DFPS; Bishop Aaron Blake, Harvest Family Life Ministries

Challenges & Solutions for Seasoned Executive Directors
Join two tenured executive directors as they share their program history and delve into past challenges – along with the tools they needed to address and overcome them. In addition, bring your own leadership challenges to the table and participate in a collaborative discussion. Leave with new tools and insight for addressing specific challenges and gain ideas for staff appreciation, staff retention and fundraising. Sherri Gideon, Executive Director, CASA of Denton County; Susan Etheridge, Executive Director, CASA of Collin County

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Meaningful & Effective Advocacy for Aging-out Youth
CEUs: 1.25
Learning about the resources available to youth aging out of foster care or extending care can be overwhelming. Hear from CASA, CPS and a university liaison as they first cover how to help current and former foster youth navigate the resources currently available to them, and then hear from a panel of former foster youth as they discuss what helped them the most in preparing to age out. Joyce Carter, UP Program Coordinator, Voices for Children – CASA of Brazos County; Jessycah Smith Carroll, PAL Coordinator, Region 7 – DFPS; Risa Bierman, Student Assistance Services, Texas A&M University

Download Presentation |Download Handout 1 | Download Handout 2 | Download Handout 3

School Matters – Advocates Building Relationships with Schools
Imagine a school setting that not only asks, “Who is the CASA for this child?” but also solicits that CASA advocate to join in the educational support team for the child. It is possible, and CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is making it happen with their CASA Education Committee. Learn how the committee is transforming the school setting so that every advocate can effectively represent their CASA child – and walk away with the steps needed to develop and implement a committee of your own within your program. J.C. Harville, Professional Service Provider, Aldine, Bryan & Conroe ISDs; Cheryl Baehr, CASA volunteer, Education Committee Member; Kathy Bullard, CASA volunteer, Education Committee Member; & Kim Ayres, Case Supervisor, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County


Health Advocacy – Setting the Course for a Proactive Approach
Sponsored by Care Options for Kids
Children and youth in foster care have unique physical, mental and emotional needs, and it is the role of the CASA advocate, supervisor and program to be able to effectively address and ensure the overall health and well-being of CASA children. Learn specific health advocacy opportunities for each stage of a case and how you can proactively work with healthcare professionals through real-world examples. Expand your understanding of CASA’s role as a health advocate, and leave empowered to enhance and perform health advocacy for your CASA kids. Margaret Wright, Supervisor, Dallas CASA; Laura Lamminen, Ph.D., Lead Psychologist, Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence; Scott Murphy, Advocate, Dallas CASA

Download Handout 1 | Download Handout 2

Workshopping CASA for Renewed Relationships & Better Collaboration
Creating better outcomes for children starts with all parties in a case working collaboratively and being committed to the best interest of the child. Find out how one Family Court Judge spearheaded a workshop to unite teams of professionals, including the local CASA program, to establish a better understanding of and appreciation for the different roles each person plays in the outcomes for CPS cases. Through this process and training, the teams gained new perspectives and created strong, friendlier and more respected relations among all parties. Judge Anne B. Darring, 306th District County Judge, Galveston; Kris Lucas, J.D., Board Member; & Connie Ricketts, Executive Director, CASA of Galveston County

85th Legislative Session Update
CEUs: 1.25

Child protection was one of the top priorities of the 85th Texas Legislature. In addition to being declared an emergency item by Governor Greg Abbott, more than 500 bills affecting child welfare were introduced, and dozens of significant pieces of legislation were ultimately enacted. The end result of all of these legislative actions will cause significant and far-reaching changes in the child welfare system, and ultimately CASA. Hear from an expert panel of child advocates, policy experts and child welfare service providers as they dive into the impact of these legislative changes on foster care capacity, kinship care, transitioning youth and the child protection workforce. Katie Olse, Texas Alliance for Child and Family Services; Dimple Patel, TexProtects; Dr. Katherine Barillas, One Voice Texas. Moderator: Sarah Crockett, Public Policy Coordinator, Texas CASA

SATURDAY, Oct. 21 | 9:00 am- 10:15 am

Examining the Evolving Child Protection System
Sponsored by Upbring
CEUs: 1.25

Change is coming to the child protection system as the result of recent legislative actions taken during the 85th Legislative Session. The expansion of community based care – previously foster care redesign – and the outsourcing of many state duties and responsibilities to private contractors will dramatically reshape the child protection system in Texas. It is essential for the CASA network to understand how the system is changing and what CASA and other child welfare stakeholders may need to do in response. Join a panel of child welfare experts as they explain how the system is changing and what the implications are for children in care, foster care providers, CASA programs, and the judiciary. Katie Olse, Executive Director, Texas Alliance of Children and Family Services; Kate Murphy, Senior Child Welfare Policy Associate, Texans Care for Children; Tina Amberboy, Executive Director, The Children’s Commission; Moderator: Andy Homer, Executive Director of Public Affairs, Texas CASA

Understanding & Advocating for Children with Sexually Aggressive Behavior
Sponsored by Pegasus Schools
CEUs: 1.25

The Texas foster care system has historically struggled to find appropriate services, placements and permanency options for children with sexual behavior problems and sexually aggressive behavior. These children need special attention, care and supervision, but most importantly, need to be viewed compassionately and with a hopeful attitude toward recovery as they are often victims of trauma themselves. These are complex situations that may be challenging for advocates and caregivers, but by identifying and addressing these issues appropriately advocates and caseworkers will be better able to make sound decisions that ensure the safety of all children in the system. Attendees will learn how to identify sexually aggressive behaviors, document and communicate that behavior with caregivers and others, and advocate for appropriate support and services to facilitate the healing process. Sarah Crockett, Public Policy Coordinator, Texas CASA & Carol Self, Division Administrator for Permanency, Texas DFPS


Sex Trafficking of At-risk Minors & Youth in Texas
CEUs: 1.25
Sex trafficking of at-risk minors and youth in Texas, especially those involved in the child welfare system, is an ongoing issue. In this workshop, attendees will hear about current research regarding sex trafficking and be introduced to the basics of human trafficking, especially as they relate to minors and youth. Along with the discussion of recent studies, attendees will learn how to define sex trafficking of minors and youth and identify key risk indicators. Dr. Melissa I. M. Torres, Director of Human Trafficking Research Portfolio, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, The University of Texas at Austin

Men Advocates: Here They Come!
CEUs: 1.25
In this follow up to last year’s workshop, “It’s Raining Men,” Texas CASA’s Recruitment & Retention team will provide comprehensive tools and practical applications that can be implemented by all programs of every size to successfully recruit male volunteers. The team will unveil new, effective and powerful materials that were developed based on several men-only focus groups and work groups. Attendees will leave with a toolbox (literally) filled with resources that will transform your local program’s current strategies and set the course for successful male recruitment, retention and involvement. Dave Anderson, Volunteer Management Consultant, Texas CASA