The Clifton Lions Club met today (Thursday, July 8), and heard some club updates followed by a presentation by Lindsay Laurent of the Cross Timbers Area CASA group. The Clifton Lions is beginning the process of starting the Leos Club with Clifton ISD, with High School Principal Jimmy Jackson welcoming the idea. The club will start with the new school year, as a service opportunity for Clifton ISD students.
Some big news came recently for the club as well:
Lions were also honored for service by bringing in new members. Pictured left to right is Richard Bergman, Renee Kettler, James Powell, and Mary Gean Cope. Not pictured is Toney Rogers and Stephen Payne.
Lindsay Laurent presented on behalf of the Cross Timbers Area Court-Appointed Special Advocates. The group covers Bosque, Hamilton, Eastland and Erath counties. It is made up of Executive Director Mindy Wooley, Program Director Holli Isham, Advocacy Supervisors Isabel Talamantes and Kristen Riola, and of course, Outreach and Development Director Linsay Laurent.
The group relies heavily on members of their communities to assist children in the child welfare system. Judges appoint CASA volunteers to stand by children involved in CPS process to help the youth succeed through court proceedings, and ideally be reunited with their parents.
The group is a nonprofit organization dictated by the national and Texas CASA, but follow a lot of legislation through federal and state government.
Volunteers are always sought to be a part of this program. CASA provides training and supervision for those interested. Judges utilize the program for evaluation of cases, and information about the situation, making what CASA does a crucial part of ensuring youth are in good hands.
Those interested must be 21 and pass a slew of background checks. No background in childcare or counseling is required. The commitment is typically 5-6 hours per month.
Traditionally, Bosque County has had the highest levels of cases in the area. Numbers have dropped since the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have to do with remote schooling last year or an actual decline in numbers.
Bosque County averages about 50 cases a year, currently at 22. All cases and interactions are always supervised by another party, with either a case supervisor or advocacy specialist. Kinship placements are always a possibility, to keep the children within the family.
CPS does the initial placement, while CASA works on alternative placements following that. Ongoing training is provided as well, most recently with a trafficking course given that youth in the child welfare system are a group at risk for human trafficking.