CASA of the South Plains Finds Hope through PlainsCapital Bank
“We love PlainsCapital Bank. Our branch knows us by name. Anything that we need, they are really good to us. They know what we do, and that is why they support us. They know the difference we are making in the lives of these children.” – Jaclyn Morris, Executive Director of CASA of the South Plains
Jaclyn Morris knows, all too well, the importance of CASA of the South Plains. She’s not just the executive director. She’s also a mom to three, two of whom are adopted from the foster care system. CASA of the South Plains is one of 72 non-profits in Texas known as CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Each one is independently run locally and provides a legal voice in court in the best interest of a child in the foster care system. The children involved are victims of sexual, physical and mental abuse and neglect.
CASA of the South Plains’ 18 employees and nearly 300 volunteers help make the mission possible, advocating for the best interest of these children while they’re in foster care. Thanks to its longstanding partnership with PlainsCapital Bank, the organization is able to recruit, train and support local community members to support children and families involved in the child welfare system.
Jaclyn remembers the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic like it was yesterday. She had to tell employees they’d be shutting down and working from home, something they’d never done in the history of the organization. About 50 percent of CASA of the South Plains’ budget comes from local fundraising events and grants that come from local businesses. As the COVID-19 shutdown began, Jaclyn immediately was concerned about the organization’s future and ability to continue providing valuable information to the judges and others involved in the cases they serve to help ensure the children’s best interests were being met. In 2020, CASA served 605 children in foster care.
When the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was announced, Jaclyn immediately began conversations with PlainsCapital’s Lubbock business banking team to see if CASA qualified. The bank got the application in quickly, and it was approved. The loan was fully forgiven and made it possible for CASA to cover payroll for its team members, which allowed for volunteer recruitment, training and support.
Although the organization lost $153,000 in fundraising in 2020 due to the pandemic, CASA of the South Plains is now rebuilding and hiring for positions that were at a standstill last year. The pandemic taught the team to work smarter and more efficiently to provide support to volunteers and advocacy to children. They’ve even created new positions that will result in serving more children and inspecting the quality of every interaction with a child.
Jaclyn says CASA of the South Plains still isn’t serving 100 percent of the children who need their help. Nearly 800 children in foster care still need a consistent, caring adult in their lives to help ensure their voice is heard. The community can help by supporting and sponsoring volunteers or by becoming a CASA Volunteer.
“When the pandemic hit our community, I began thinking about what would happen if we weren’t serving these children,” Jaclyn says. “That’s what pushed me into motion to think outside of the box about what we could do to continue to serve each and every child in our program. My focus was on not abandoning the children who currently had a CASA. For some of these children, we are all they have. We had to remain in their lives. PlainsCapital was very optimistic, very positive, and they are very grateful for what we do in this community. They truly support us. It’s an honor to do business with them.”