HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — As the population in Hays County continues to grow, so does the number of children in the foster care system. CASA of Central Texas said these vulnerable kids do not have enough court-appointed advocates to keep up with the demand of cases.
Ronika Allen knows personally the difference a CASA volunteer makes, because she grew up in foster care in Hays County.
“I went into the foster care system at age 7, and I’ve pretty much been in and out of the system up until I aged out of the system,” Allen said.
Allen said she didn’t have many people in her corner throughout the process until she met her CASA volunteer, Eloise Hudson.
“We fill in the children what’s going on in their lives. Explain it to them on their level. But we’re also there for all the other adults that have questions,” Hudson said.
Hudson said in Hays County alone there are about 500 children in the foster care system. She said that number continues to go up.
“As Hays County continues to grow, there’s just going to be more and more kids coming into the system,” Hudson said.
She said CASA needs 400 more volunteers to keep up with this growth. But until then, it has to turn down cases. That prompts a judge to appoint a second attorney to act as the child’s guardian instead.
“We’re gonna be paying for them as tax payers. The children are going to be one of many cases,” Hudson said.
As Allen reflected on her foster care experience, she hoped more children can get the opportunity to have a CASA volunteer, like she did all those years ago.
“I do remember Eloise coming to see me all the time. That did mean a lot to me, because I didn’t have a lot of people coming to see me,” Allen said.
Hudson said last year, CASA of Central Texas served 60% of children in foster care in Hays, Caldwell, Comal and Guadalupe counties. It currently has 620 volunteers to cover all those areas. Its goal is to get to at least 1,000 volunteers.