15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Casey Family Programs
Twenty years ago, Carolyne Rodriguez opened the Austin field office for Casey Family Programs and became its first Division Director, assuming responsibility for the development of Casey policies and procedures in the Austin area. To enhance services to children in long-term foster care, Ms. Rodriguez established excellent relationships with the local Child Protective Services (CPS) offices and built the Casey Family Programs Austin Division into a model program. Her efforts resulted in the recruitment of caring families to provide foster care services to the children in the permanent managing conservatorship of CPS. By participating in the Community Resource Council, composed of local stakeholders and community leaders, she also proved a driving force in mobilizing the community to care for foster children.
In 1997, Ms. Rodriguez became a Regional Vice President for Casey Family Programs Southern Region, which comprised four divisions in Austin, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Baton Rouge. As vice president, she emphasized the sharing of best practices issues among her divisions and was the first to implement a quality assurance system within the Casey regions.
As the Casey Family Programs began to refocus their energy from direct delivery of service to systems improvements, Ms. Rodriguez became the leader of the Texas State Strategy, a collaborative effort between Casey Family Programs and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). It is on the strength of her personal relationships garnered over twenty years plus her knowledge, enthusiasm, and leadership abilities that the Texas State Strategy Collaboration was launched. The work of Ms. Carolyne Rodriguez and the Texas State Strategy has brought about innovations within the CPS program that include family group decision making, kinship caregiver supports, and better preparation of youth emancipating from foster care. In 2005, Ms. Rodriguez and the Texas State Strategy collaboration intend to continue current efforts and to expand its focus to education issues of children and youth in foster care and the disproportionate numbers of children and youth of color in the child welfare system.
Ms. Rodriguez is a leader and mentor in the field of child welfare. Her dedication and contributions made possible the improvement of systems that affect the lives of thousands of children and youth in care.