IMPACT E-NEWS January 2016

State Office Updates
Updated training to roll out in 2016  

The 30-hour training required to become a CASA volunteer is getting an update and CASA of Arizona's web designer, Rand Rosenbaum, is part of the committee making it happen.

Rosenbaum has been a member of the National CASA Curriculum Advisory Committee for about five years, ever since the formation of Flex learning. Now that Flex learning is completed and has been successful across the nation the committee is working on revamping the 30-hour in-person training to be more engaging and better prepare advocates to handle cases they may encounter.

"The current manual and the way it has been taught, there's a lot of great information but when the CASA volunteer got finished with the course they really didn't have the skills we thought they needed to write a really good court report and to go out and do their job," Rosenbaum said. "They had information but they needed a lot more training. With the Flex learning we designed it so it would be on-the-job training."

The new training will be more case-based. Examples will be given at the end of each section which will ask the volunteer to think critically and discuss solutions. Each example is unique and features a different principle to learn from. Each chapter will build on the one before so at the end the volunteer will be able to think through even complex cases and write a clear report.

In November Rosenbaum traveled to Seattle to meet with the committee in person. The committee includes members from across the country representing diverse communities and experts on several topics. Each subcommittee presented the portion of the manual they've been working on so the group could collaborate and make the information seamless. Now a designer and editor will review the material. A draft will be completed in January.

In 2016 the draft will be sent out to several states-including Arizona--to pilot test. A finalized manual for facilitators and volunteers is expected in the summer of 2016 at the National CASA annual conference. It will be available on the national website in pdf form. The pilot may begin as early as this month.

"I'm really excited about it and that's the consensus among other people in the group," Rosenbaum said. "It will be more engaging because there will be more discussion on the cases. Through our experience with Flex learning, the outcomes will be much better. The local programs will have the option to use Flex learning or the 30-hour in-person training."

To volunteer to be a CASA applicants must pass a background check and a polygraph examination and complete 30 hours of pre-service training. Once the training is complete the volunteer is assigned to a case and asked to dedicate 15 to 20 hours per month to gathering information on the case and ensuring the child is getting the help they need. 
Six programs receive VOCA grants 
Several CASA programs in Arizona got a special funding boost from the Victims of Crime Act that will allow for some much-needed support in 2016. In all, six programs in Arizona received nearly $750,000 in VOCA funds. Most of the money will go toward supporting existing CASA volunteers by hiring new coordinators and improving online systems.

CASA of Maricopa County will use the monies to complete their website, hire a coordinator, and hire a community liaison to partner with stakeholders and troubleshoot any issues CASA advocates may face. Pima County, which also received grant funds from National CASA, will increase outreach efforts with advertisements and will hire two new staff members. In Pinal, Yavapai and Gila counties funds will be used to hire new coordinators to better serve more advocates. CASA of Arizona also received some grant funds which will be used to improve CASAaz, the state's web-based case management system designed for use by staff and advocates. CASAaz makes communication with program staff and the court easier and is in the process of being rolled out statewide.

While the applications took time and effort, CASA staff said they'd happily do it all again.

"It's the only way that we can grow is to provide infrastructure to our CASA program," said Justine Grabowsky of CASA of Maricopa County. "Doing that we can support our advocates better, the ones we have now, and we can bring on more because our coordinators won't be doing so much other work interviewing, processing applicants and finding cases for them. That's going to be awesome."

The key to writing a good grant proposal, county staff said, is keeping it interesting and meeting all the requirements outlined in the application.

"I always try to put myself in the position of the person who is reading it," said Chris Swenson-Smith, Division Director in Pima County. "You don't want it to be boring. You want it to have a little bit of an emotional appeal while still being logical and having very specific, measurable goals... Every grant, for me, I look at as a little bit of a research project to help make us better."

Each grant application asked for very specific goals, costs and timelines that the recipients will need to meet throughout 2016. Grants are funded for one year from Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016 and may be renewed for an additional 12-month award period.

CASA programs in Arizona receive 30 percent of unclaimed lottery winnings and depend on grants for any additional funding. Arizona's CASA programs, which are organized under the court system, cannot accept outside donations.  
Happy anniversary!

In 1991 a bill was passed through the legislature granting CASA 30 percent of unclaimed lottery winnings. That source of funding allowed CASA of Arizona to establish a program in each county in Arizona. Several of those programs celebrate anniversaries in January. Happy anniversary to these county programs:
Apache, founded Jan. 1, 1992
Greenlee, founded Jan. 1, 1992
Pima, founded Jan. 15, 1987 (Pima was formed independently in 1979 but joined the state effort in '87.)
Pinal, founded Jan. 9, 1989
Santa Cruz, founded Jan. 1, 1993
Yavapai, founded Jan. 9, 1989
Yuma, founded Jan. 1, 1992

Thank you!

Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales:
During the one and one-half years I have served as Chief Justice, I have been impressed by the many contributions made by volunteers like you who work with the Arizona courts. Many have told me how rewarding they find their efforts to help advance justice in Arizona. I and my colleagues greatly appreciate your dedication and hard work.
Existing volunteers like you are also our greatest source for identifying new volunteers. We have a pressing need for volunteers to serve on Foster Care Review Boards or as Court Appointed Special Advocates in communities throughout the State. We also have volunteer opportunities on other boards, committees or commissions.
Information about volunteer opportunities is available on the Arizona Courts website: The homepage has a rotating slide show where you can click the one saying "We is more powerful than me...volunteer, get involved." Or simply go to Because "we" truly is more powerful than "me," I hope you will share these links and information with others who might be interested in volunteering to work with the Arizona courts.
Our communities are stronger when we partner together and work to ensure impartial justice for all. Thank you again for your efforts toward this vital goal.
With appreciation,
Scott Bales
Chief Justice

County Program Highlights
Laura Larkin honored for years of service 

Submitted by Justine Grabowsky, CASA of Maricopa County   

CASA advocate Laura Larkin was recently honored for her advocacy work with CASA of Maricopa County at the Voices for CASA Children Jingle and Mingle event held in December.

Larkin serves as CASA of Maricopa County's longest serving volunteer by becoming an advocate in 1998 and has provided advocate services for 29 children in the foster care/juvenile dependency system.

CASA of Coconino County taking part in the foster care discussion 
Submitted by CASA of Coconino County

Snow may have cancelled Coconino's January Academy but it didn't stop program staff from participating in conversations about foster care in the county. On Jan. 5 Coordinator Amber Martin participating in a roundtable discussion about the need for foster beds in the community. Martin was also part of a community information session with various licensing agencies on Jan. 13.  
Making CASA work as a Couple
Submitted by CASA of Pinal County

George and Barbara Harris make working together as advocates an amazing experience for each other as well as the children they serve.

Shortly after George retired he sought out opportunities to volunteer where he could use his faith in God to motivate him to help others. George found the CASA Program and during the interview he knew that Barbara would also be interested.

George and Barbara said when they are committed to the cause of assisting youth and their families, the opportunity to work toward the same goal can be rewarding. They work as a team, George schedules the meetings and Barbara writes the detailed reports.

The couple believe the most rewarding part of being advocates is witnessing the lifestyle changes and adjustments on behalf of the foster families to care for the children who have been placed in their homes and they continue to be encouraged by the significant development of their CASA children.

Having two perspectives in conflict situations contributes to a broader understanding of the situation which helps formulate viable recommendations to the court. Two perspectives also compliment different personalities which can often times facilitate discussion and rapport among the parties involved. Working together is rewarding for the couple, the child, the foster families and the parents.

Thank you, George and Barbara!
CASA of Greenlee County gets out into the community 
Submitted by CASA of Greenlee County

CASA of Greenlee County has been making an appearance at community events in December. On December 5th CASA attended Greenlee County's Annual Festival of Lights. CASA was able to set up a small table and give out information on the program. On December 4th the Morenci Community Center held their Holiday Festival and CASA was also able to participate in the festivities and give out information and speak with interested parties regarding the program 
Mark Your Calendars!
Upcoming Events
Jan. 18, 12 to 4 p.m. 

MLK Festival in Downtown Mesa

Come visit our booth at the MLK Festival in downtown Mesa on Monday, Jan. 18. Volunteers are welcome to help out at the CASA of Arizona table. If you are willing to help please Contact Allison Hurtado at [email protected] or 602-452-3683. 

For more information on the event, click here.

Jan. 20 and 21, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.   math-teacher-student.jpg

Academy in the Pines   

CASA of Yavapai County will host an academy for new CASAs on Jan. 20 and 21
Jan. 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

Child Sex Trafficking in Our Community 

CASA Lori Rubenstein and Detective Chad Shilling will discuss the issue of child sex trafficking in Yavapai County. The training will take place at the Verde Valley Courthouse Jury Assembly Room.  For more information see Page 6 of the Verde Valley newsletter here. 
Jan. 21, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Knowing Who You Are  

colorful_cube.jpg CASA of Pima County will host a Knowing Who You Are training for advocates on Jan. 21. The training helps start a discussion on cultural competency. The training will also be held in Florence on Feb. 18 and will be coming to other counties throughout the year.  
Jan. 28, 5 to 7 p.m.  

Pima Years of Service Recognition 

CASA of Pima County will honor volunteers who've been part of this organization for several years through a dinner and celebration on Jan. 28. Come visit and be recognized for your years of service! Contact your coordinator for event information. 
Feb. 16 and 18   

Arizona Justice Summit  

Several faith-based foster care agencies in Arizona are getting together to host a foster care summit on Feb. 16 (in Phoenix) and Feb. 18 (in Tucson). The event will bring together speakers and have dozens of break out sessions to talk about the challenges facing youth in foster care and ways to help. CASA has been invited to host an information table at this event. For more information click here.  
Online Resources
Fostering Advocates Arizona 
This website is full of resources for youth aging out of the foster care system. It's full of steps to take to take on the world including information about money, aging out, support and sponsorship. Take a look here.
The Neglected Brain 
Below you will find the links to an excellent four-part series that "explores the crippling, and yet reversible effects of childhood neglect on the brain and life of Danielle Goodwin." The Editor also notes "Neglect is by far the most common form of child maltreatment. Whether physical or emotional, benign or malicious, it alters the developing brain's architecture and circuitry in profound and persistent ways that often lead to physical and behavioral problems throughout life." We encourage you to read this series to learn more about the effects of neglect on the brain. Training credit available for those who read it and write a summary of how this information can help a CASA advocate better serve their CASA child. (1 hour training credit)
 Part 1
 Part 2
 Part 3
 Part 4
Psychedelic that where it's at?  
Worth 2.5 hours of training credit!
This webinar is recommended for staff and volunteers who work with children on prescription medication or would like to know more about
medications commonly prescribed to children in foster care.
Click here to view the webinar! 
Photo Gallery
CASA of Pima County celebrated the holidays with volunteers and kids on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Golf 'n Stuff in Tucson. About 48 CASA kids enjoyed fun activities such as bumper boats, miniature golf, laser tag and arcade games. Santa and his helpful Elf stopped by to greet the kids. CASA of Pima County is so thankful for the Council's support of this event each year.
On Dec. 11 CASA of Maricopa County held their Jingle and Mingle event. CASA advocates enjoyed each other's company and found gifts for their kids donated by Voices for CASA Children. Hundreds of gifts and toys were donated by local partners. 

CASA of Yavapai County held holiday parties for advocates in Sedona and Prescott! Thanks to everyone who helped organize and to everyone who came to celebrate together!
CASA of Yuma County celebrated the holidays with a party and gift exchange. Thank you for all you do! 
CASA of Arizona | 602-452-3683 | [email protected] |
1501 W. Washington Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Issue 17 | Jan. 2016

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In This Issue

  • Arizona to pilot new training
  • Six programs received VOCA funds
  • Happy Anniversary
  • County Program Highlights
  • Mark Your Calendars
  • Recent CASA Media Coverage

In Case You Missed It
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