IMPACT E-News October 2012
I M P A C T E-News from CASA of Arizona
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CASA of Arizona's information for statewide CASA staff, volunteers and supporters who share the vision of an advocate in court for every abused and neglected child in need of a safe, permanent home.
State Office Update
A roundup of important news and information from CASA of Arizona
* Addressing Disparity and Diversity
The Arizona Supreme Court's Justice 2020 Plan calls for all of us to "respect the unique demographics and needs of children in the dependency system by striving to diversify the base of volunteers who serve them." Also, the plan directs the court to "expand cultural awareness and sensitivity training for judges, court staff, probation officers and volunteers."
While CASA of Arizona has already begun working toward these goals in the plan through the creation of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusiveness (CODI) and strategic outreach in diverse communities throughout our state, the court is also working with our existing volunteers to help them understand and address the issues surrounding the racial and ethnic identity of the children we serve.
In early 2013, CASA of Arizona will roll out the Knowing Who You Are curriculum statewide. This unique training developed by Casey Family Programs will help CASA volunteers and other children explore race and ethnicity, preparing them to support the healthy development of the racial and ethnic identity of foster children. The goal is to take this training statewide and to engage system partners in this effort.
The state office has data regarding disparity in the child welfare system that can be accessed anytime here. The information is based on the most current reports available.
* Flex Learning Training
The CASA state office is exploring the possibility of implementing the National CASA Flex Learning Training Academy for new CASA volunteers who prefer a hybrid learning format. The training academy would provide the mandated 30 hours of training for new CASA volunteers or they can attend the traditional classroom CASA academy. The CASA of Arizona office will provide more information as it becomes available.
* Blue Ribbon Event Planning
The CASA state office is participating in the 2013 Blue Ribbon event planning committee in recognition of foster parents. The event will be held May 18, 2013 at Chase Field during a Diamondbacks baseball game. Foster parents and their foster children and biological children will be provided free tickets and a day of many activities. The CASA of Arizona office will provide more information on this event, including opportunities to volunteer, as event planning continues.
* Division of Children Youth and Families Update Summary
o The Child Abuse Hotline has a new program manager and has been re-designed to increase efficiency and provide for a more user-friendly system.
o Social Work Assessment Team (SWAT) units have been implemented statewide and are addressing non-active cases and the workload in the investigative and ongoing phases of CPS case management
o Every Thursday, investigators statewide will have a protected day to work on the non-active cases on their directory. Ongoing case managers will participate in case reviews on all children in out-of-home settings to identify any barriers to permanency for these children.
o The division will institute monthly Az-Force meetings statewide to review in detail statistical information from each APM section to discuss workflow patterns, open/closed cases, non-active cases, out-of-home care numbers, case reviews and progress to permanency for these children.
Updates from National, State, County and Local Programs.
Meet your new State Office staff
Debby Bess joined CASA of Arizona in June 2012 as Administrative Assistant. Prior to this, she worked as Support Staff for CASA of Yavapai County. In addition to her experience with CASA, Debby brings experience as an office manager for a Landscape Architect. Prior to taking an eighteen year break to raise her children, she was the training coordinator for a savings and loan business, where she coordinated all training programs as well as trained tellers and supervisory personnel. She has also worked for Southwest Autism Research Center and Urban Earth Design. In her new role at CASA of Arizona, Debby provides administrative support to the State Program Manager, collects and tracks deliverables from counties, including contracting and funding documents, manages billing for Title IV-E funds, maintains county files, tracks customer service requests (CSRs) to the CASA inbox and supports the outreach and web design specialists. In her free time, Debby enjoys spending time with her three children, two grandchildren, her husband and their five dogs and four horses. She is proud to be a part of the CASA of Arizona team.
Katie Mayer joined CASA of Arizona in July 2012 as Marketing and Community Outreach Specialist. Prior to this, she has worked as a print reporter, writing articles for the East Valley Tribune and The Arizona Republic and has served as the Community Outreach Specialist and Public Information Officer for the Tempe Police Department. Most recently, Katie managed global alumni communications for Thunderbird School of Global Management in the Alumni Relations Office. Katie comes to CASA with a passion for helping children, which she discovered while volunteering for a local shelter. In her current position, Katie is responsible for statewide strategic marketing of the CASA program as well as statewide outreach and media relations initiatives. She creates marketing collateral, develops key relationships in the community to promote the purpose and mission of the CASA program, publishes the IMPACT e-newsletter, coordinates events and community outreach and assists counties with marketing and outreach needs. In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time with her husband, three dogs and one cat and likes playing table tennis and doing home improvement projects.
Notes from National CASA
New Children's Bureau resource for youth
The Children's Bureau now offers a new guide on psychotropic medications for youth in foster care. The guide is designed to be read directly by youth or serve as a discussion tool for anyone working with children in foster care.
2011 Local Program Survey Report available
The CASA program nationwide served more than 234,000 children with about 77,000 volunteers. Read more
Spotlight on amazing Staff, Volunteers and Supporters.
Two from CASA of Maricopa County receive awards
CASA of Maricopa County Program Manager Laurie Laughlin and Program Development Specialist Justine Grabowsky were awarded on August 16, 2012 for the CASA of Maricopa County Peer Coordinator Program and CASA of Maricopa County Web site they created. The award came from the National Association of Counties.
CASA Volunteer Spotlight:
Gila County CASA volunteer puts the pieces together
When Gila County resident Maxine Piper retired after 25 years working for DES, she began her retirement like many people. She moved to Strawberry, spent more time with her children and grandchild and tended to her garden. She even picked up some part time work providing legal representation on telephonic unemployment insurance hearings.
But despite a fulfilling and busy life, Piper wanted more.
"I found that I was really motivated to do something," Piper said. "I wanted to put myself in contact with people around me and to have some relevance. And working with children has always been important to me."
With that goal in mind, Piper turned to CASA. She had first learned of CASA through Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw's work with the program and also knew about it through Arizona Early Intervention, with which she spent the last 9 years of her career working.
On February 6, 2012, Piper was appointed her first case. And since then, she has already taken on a second.
"There's something really momentous to have been monitoring a case and to have created relationships with people in all aspects of the case, then to have the judge in the courtroom saying, 'What does the CASA recommend?'" Piper said. "I mean, just the idea that you could actually make a difference in a child's life, how important is that?"
CASA of Gila County Coordinator Katrisha Stuler said Piper is a standout volunteer in that she has a unique ability to get people to open up to her and share information. Piper also writes detailed court reports that help paint a clear picture for the judge.
"I often think of CASAs working their cases as putting together a very complicated jigsaw puzzle," Stuler said. "They gather as many of the pieces as they can find and start to put it together so we can see the whole puzzle picture. Maxine has a knack for the CASA case puzzle and she is amazing at finding those pieces."
Piper said that being able to touch so many aspects of a case, is one of her favorite aspects of her work as a CASA volunteer. Also, she takes great pride in writing thorough court reports.
"I focus hard on crafting the reports," Piper said. "It's daunting, but I take it seriously. I'm always cognizant of the responsibility of putting that type of information on the record."
She also appreciates Stuler's commitment to the program and said that she doesn't know how she could navigate the paperwork, appointments and constantly shifting case information without all of the CASA staff's support.
Having a bond is important as well, because sometimes, despite the best intentions and commitment, cases don't always turn out as volunteers wish they would and their coordinators are a good resource for them -- whether to lend advice or provide emotional support.
"There are plenty of times when I come home and sit and stew and fret or just drive myself crazy trying to track down information," Piper said. "I have finally kind of come to...the place where I can, so far, relax a little bit and say 'You know what? This is going to play out the way it needs to play out. As long as I do everything that I can appropriately and responsibly, then I will have done all that a person can do."
Still, Piper further enriches the work she does as a CASA volunteer through her own life experiences. As a new grandmother to a six month old baby girl, Piper said that spending time with her granddaughter really "brought home how every child, every baby deserves that love, protection and concern."
And as the mother of a son who is in recovery from addiction, she remains involved in Nar-Anon and has the resources and skills for working with cases involving addiction - which is common, she said. Despite the advocacy Piper provides to her appointed children and all the time she spends writing thoughtful and analytical court reports, she can't help but become emotional thinking about the added meaning her appointed children have given to her life.
"I get teary when I read accounts by foster children who have had CASAs and how their CASAs have impacted them and I get teary when someone in a child's family hugs me and thanks me for being there for the child," Piper said. "It's an honor to be trusted with this huge responsibility and privilege to impact a child's life."
Great Job Maxine! Thank you for your outstanding commitment as a CASA Volunteer!
Training & Resources
For County CASA programs:
CASA of Arizona has created a new brochure outlining volunteer Dos and Don'ts that your CASA volunteers can share with foster parents, biological parents and anyone who needs more information on what advocates do. The brochure was created at the request of CASA of Cochise County, but can be tailored for each individual county. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in this.
The Arizona Lottery offers sponsorships from $100 to $4,500. The agency prefers to provide funding for named scholarships, awards, specific programs and other sustaining initiatives. CASA programs can request a sponsorship here
For CASA Support Councils:
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides general grants to nonprofit organizations with proven or innovative initiatives that further their mission "Every child deserves a safe, loving and permanent family. More info here
Updates, summaries and articles.
Pima County Presiding Judge brings knowledge, innovation to courtroom
By Katie Mayer
She has been on the bench since 1981and has presided over juvenile cases of devastating struggles, tough journeys and joyful endings.
But despite the challenging work Judge Karen S. Adam performs every day in her position as Pima County Juvenile Court Presiding Judge, she remains focused on bringing innovation, knowledge and compassion to every case she hears.
Even with dependency cases that have doubled in Pima County over the past year, Judge Adam stays committed to her work for children. Read More
"I love the ever present potential for change and the opportunity to help put things in place to help children make a difference in their lives," Judge Adam said. "I like the opportunity to help families be productive, responsible and united and to help children to be back with their parents when they can do so safely -- and if they can't -- to help them with another permanent plan, including developing life skills if they are approaching adulthood."
One of the ways Judge Adam is able to help children and families access resources is through information sharing. She has been the presiding judge over Pima County Family Drug Court for five years and has seen a number of issues in that courtroom carry over into her work in juvenile court. She also stays connected with other judges, attends conferences, holds lectures and remains involved in the community.
"Judge Adam is passionate about our families served and it shows," said Ramona Panas, program coordinator for CASA of Pima County. "She commands excellence in every avenue of Pima County Juvenile Court Center's service delivery, starting with herself."
Judge Adam is a member of the Self-Represented Litigants Network, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the National and Arizona Chapters of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. She is the Dean of the Judicial College of Arizona, co-chair of the NCJFCJ Curriculum Committee and has served as faculty for the National Judicial College since 2007.
"It's really important to share information in order to help people access the right resources," Adam said. "As presiding judge, what I'm trying to do is make training available for people who can't get away and go to conferences."
One example of this is a day-long domestic violence training, which Adam is currently organizing for everyone involved in cases. The Nov. 6 training will offer an in depth look at a hypothetical domestic violence case. Participants in the training will be able to gain a better understanding of the many complex issues involved in domestic violence as well as its effects on children and families.
"We are seeing a lot more domestic violence," Judge Adam said. "When there is domestic violence in a case, it's helpful for us to track that and put it on a different trajectory."
While it might seem emotionally draining to address with such tough issues every day, Judge Adam said she "works very hard at loving detachment."
"You need to be really on guard all of the time with this work," she said. "You could really let this consume you."
When not presiding over cases, Judge Adam enjoys yoga, walking, swimming, baking and spending time with family and friends. She said that everyone - including CASAs - need to remember that although we seem overwhelmed with cases, most families and children in our communities are thriving.
"Judge Adam engages people in the process with dignity and respect," Panas said. "It's as if they are the one and only family served."
Judge Adam also empathizes with the challenging work that CASA volunteers do and is grateful to be able to appoint them to children who need them the most.
"Although it would be great to have a CASA volunteer in every single case, what I want is CASAs with the older children and the sibling groups, facilitating sibling visits."
Also, it's important for CASA volunteers to advocate for children with emotional and educational challenges that make it difficult to obtain needed services.
"I love having CASA volunteers in cases where children need a consistent, loving and responsible adult in their lives," Judge Adam said. "It's important to have CASA volunteers on cases where there literally is no one else."
Best for Babies Update
The Best for Babies initiative continues to grow as 14 counties are implementing Best for Babies best practices for maltreated infants and toddlers. Best for Babies also recently held its annual symposium in Phoenix on September 18th, bringing together statewide courts that are committed to the initiative.
The Best for Babies initiative focuses on improving outcomes for infants and toddlers in out of home care. The Court Improvement program of the Arizona Supreme Court has contracted with Prevent Child Abuse Arizona over the past few years to provide training and technical assistance to county juvenile courts and community stakeholders in the child welfare system. Read More
"Infants under age one enter out of home care in Arizona at twice the rate of all other ages of children," said Prevent Child Abuse Arizona Executive Director Becky Ruffner. "Very young children are the most vulnerable, and yet at this time in their lives, there is a tremendous amount we can do to improve their lives."
Sparked by an idea from Ruffner's friend Sally Campbell, Best for Babies was launched in 2004 in Yavapai County under then Judge Robert M. Brutinel, who is now an Arizona Supreme Court Justice.
Ruffner and Campbell were instrumental in bringing the initiative to fruition, but when Campbell died in 2008 from cancer, Ruffner took the lead and continues to move it forward today.
"It has spread like a good idea," Ruffner said of the program. "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."
The initiative is the first of its kind in Arizona to address the unique needs of infants and toddlers who are in out of home care. It utilizes scientific data on early brain development and research into the unique needs of infants and toddlers to ensure that they have these needs met as their cases move through the court system. Some babies are even appointed specially trained CASA volunteers called "Baby CASAs."
Some of the best practices in the Best for Babies initiative include the following:
- Judicial leadership to implement needed changes in court procedures, such more frequent hearings, standing service orders and communication with parents.
- Increased judicial oversight of cases and serving as timekeeper, so that time to permanency is reduced.
- A multi-agency team of child welfare providers to coordinate local services to meet the unique needs of maltreated infants and toddlers through monthly team meetings.
- A continuum of services to support healthy development of dependent young children including training and support for foster parents.
CASA volunteers who want to become "Baby CASAs" receive an additional five hours of training in addition to the standard 30 hours. If you're interested in becoming a Baby CASA, call CASA of Arizona at (602) 452-3683
New section added to CASA of Arizona Web site
CASA of Arizona has added a new section called "Child Welfare" to the Web site. The new section provides the most current data on children in out-of-home care as well as statistics on CPS calls and investigations.
County Highlights & Happenings! CHECK OUT each County's website for the most up-to-date information! CLICK HERE to select a County Website, then click on News & Events.
Stories from county programs.
CASA of Navajo County enjoys annual picnic
More than 230 gathered July 28, 2012 for Foster Family Fun Day in Navajo County.
The third annual event, held at Fools Hollow Recreation Area in Show Low, was the largest to date and was organized by the Navajo County Friends of CASA and CASA of Navajo County. Foster families, foster children, CASAs, community members and even Judge Michala Ruechel enjoyed a picnic day complete with carnival games, face painting a clown and all of the delicious foods that go along with a picnic. "This event gives all of us a chance to see these kids in a normal atmosphere," said Kirk Grugel, CASA of Navajo County Coordinator. "The magical part for me is seeing the children who have never had cotton candy grab it for the first time." A special thank you to Navajo County Friends of CASA, Civil Air Patrol, Lowes, Child Protective Services and HRT Foster Licensing for all they have done to make this event a success.
Caring for our Children and Youth Summit
CASA of Pinal County Coordinator Greg Clark speaks to a prospective CASA volunteer on October 5, 2012 at Living Streams Church in Phoenix. During the event, Clark also spoke on a panel focused on ways to help children in foster care.
CASA of Arizona wants to hear from you!
The State Office would like to know what you think! Click the DROP BOX and share your thoughts about the CASA program. You can remain anonymous, or you can give us your information so we may contact you to find out more or to simply say "thank you!" We look forward to hearing from you!
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In This Issue
- New State Office Staff
- National CASA News
- CASA Resources
- Local Updates and Articles
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