East Texas CASA contracted with the Center for Social Work Research in December of 1997 to conduct a six-month evaluation of their program in Gregg County (Longview), Texas. The evaluation plan included interviewing individuals involved in child abuse and neglect cases in Gregg County, reading case files, and a computer analysis of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (PRS) child abuse and neglect cases filed in Gregg and Harrison Counties. The goals were to identify the roles that East Texas CASA plays in these cases, and the efficacy and impact of their work on the PRS system in Gregg County.

For the evaluation 13 participants were interviewed, including East Texas CASA staff and volunteers, attorneys ad litem, a PRS caseworker, a district attorney, and a judge in Gregg County. Respondents indicated that East Texas CASA generally works well. The respondents noted the high level of effort put forth by the volunteers and their ability to move cases through the court system. Respondents also noted that CASA saves the county financially through the work provided, reduces foster care costs, and reduces long-term and liability costs. Recommendations from respondents included earlier appointment of volunteers, improved services for volunteers, additional volunteer training, and expanded community awareness of the East Texas CASA program.

Researchers also evaluated five files of East Texas CASA cases closed between 1995 and 1997. Children in these cases spent an average of two years in care and received a variety of services from CASA. Researchers used their analysis to develop a case review instrument to track volunteers’ activity on CASA cases. Findings were presented at the 1998 National CASA Conference in Houston, Texas in May.

Court Improvement Project, East Texas CASA