Phoenix, AZ (February 9, 2021)
An Arizona father who turned his life around so he could dedicate it to serving his family and his community has been recognized by a national child welfare foundation.
Casey Family Programs recently awarded Edward Casillas with its Birth Father of the Year Award. The award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates a tireless commitment to improving child welfare and strengthening families in their communities.
“These awards highlight the tireless efforts of individuals who are actively working toward a brighter and more hopeful future for children and families,” said Dr. William C. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs. “This year especially, the stories of these award winners exemplify that when faced with uncertainty, it is possible to adjust, respond and overcome challenges — taking action in new ways that will create real and lasting progress.”
For the past several years, Edward has been developing and expanding support programs for fathers in Southern Arizona.
He became involved in social work after his own experience in the child welfare system.
“I knew once my kids were removed that there was nothing that was going to keep me from getting them back,” Edward told Casey Family Programs about his experience. “I was willing to change the areas in my life that were unhealthy for me and my children.”
During his case, Edward was recommended to join parent support groups.
While attending, Edward noticed a trend.
“There were hardly any men going there,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of dads (attending) the programs."
That’s when Edward decided he could apply his experience in the child welfare system to improve his community.
“My heart really got tugged into the direction of supporting other fathers who were going through the same thing that I was going through. Because going through my court case, my child welfare case, everything was geared towards mom, which is great, but there wasn’t a lot geared towards fathers,” he said.
Edward began developing the curriculum and courses to provide the tools to fathers and families so they can successfully navigate the child welfare system.
“I thought a lot about hope… And what hope I have for children and families in our community,” Edward said. “I just want children and families to have the best shot they can at life.”
Edward currently works as the program and services development manager at the Family Involvement Center in Tucson. He is a member of the following organizations: the Children’s Trust Fund, the Alliance National Parent Partnership Council, Birth Parent National Network, and DCS’s Parent Advisory Collaborative. He also serves as a Touch Point Parent with Casey Family Programs and the Children’s Trust Fund’s Resiliency Project.
“After overcoming his own struggles, Edward has been an inspiration and a vital asset to our community,” said DCS Director Mike Faust. “We are proud of what Edward has already accomplished and look forward to his continued dedication to supporting and strengthening Arizona families.”
Lupe O. Tovar received the Alumni Award and former DCS Director Greg McKay received the Excellence for Children Leadership Award in 2018. With the addition of Edward's award, Arizona residents have now been awarded in all three categories; Alumni, Leadership, and Parent.
You can watch Edward's story below: