Updates from National, State, County and Local Programs.
CASA of Arizona Welcomes New Program Manager
The state office is extremely excited to announce the arrival of CASA of Arizona's new Program Manager, Nancy Molever.
Nancy has an extensive background with the CASA program, particularly with CASA of Maricopa County where she served in three different capacities from 1992-2001.
As a program manager, she collected and reported statistics relating to volunteers and children assigned to volunteers, developed and implemented program and administrative goals, oversaw training for staff, court CASA personnel and volunteers, developed training materials, and supervised volunteers. Her office maintained excellent professional working relationships with the juvenile court judges and directors.
As a program coordinator, Nancy organized outreach and recruitment, and supervised CASA volunteers. At times, her program's caseloads reached 100 volunteers per coordinator! In her first capacity with CASA, Nancy served as a volunteer. She traversed the court system with a child, from dependency petition to severance, and learned firsthand about her right to a permanent home. Subsequently, she was assigned a child for whom family services and reunification was the optimal outcome.
"CASA has been in my heart for a very long time. I understand the extreme difficulties volunteers and coordinators face, and the extraordinary rewards that come with being a part of this program," Nancy says.
Prior to CASA, Nancy served as the Restorative Justice and Policy Administrator for the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. In that capacity, she carried out leadership tasks and operational functions essential to the success of programs designed to support victims of juvenile crime, and to guarantee their statutorily-mandated rights. Nancy secured and managed grant awards that supported the agency's victims' rights positions.
In 2013, she received the agency award for Supervisor of the Year. Nancy was responsible for developing a continuum of restorative programming using a strength-based approach to help juveniles understand the harm caused by their crimes, and for promoting juvenile accountability in facility and community programs. Additionally, she oversaw the department responsible for policies, procedures and forms that regulate the activities of agency personnel, contracted agencies, volunteers, interns, committed juveniles, operations, and practices.
"After nearly 20 years of experience in the juvenile justice system, I feel prepared, and excited, for this next step. I look forward to continuing my professional career with the Arizona CASA Program. The children served by CASA are the driving force, and overwhelming passion, of my career," she says.
Join us in welcoming Nancy to the CASA family! She can be reached at [email protected].
Meet Your New State Office Staff
Laura Harries became a permanent member of the CASA of Arizona team in April 2014, following three months of working as CASA's temporary Administrative Assistant. Prior to CASA, Laura ran her own small business where she assisted companies in getting organized and operating more efficiently. She grew up in Chicago and holds a degree in Marketing from TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. When she is not working, Laura enjoys spending time with her four children, ages 5-22, her dog, and her husband.
Amy Medley joined the CASA of Arizona team in April 2014 as an Administrative Assistant. Amy has previously worked with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention where she assisted the Executive Director and supported board members throughout various regions across the state. She has a heart for the foster and adoption community, and looks forward to being a part of a team that helps children find a sense of belonging. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading a good book, and watching something funny on television.
County CASA Programs Now on Facebook
In recent months, several county CASA programs have joined CASA of Arizona in building a social media presence online! Apache, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, and Yuma counties now each have their own Facebook pages, along with CASA of Arizona. Click on the county name above to visit each page, and "like" them now!
Notes from National CASA
2014 State and Local Grant Applications Now Available
The applications for local and state National CASA grants are now available. Eligibility information, award amounts, and applications can be found at www.CASAforChildren.org/grants
. This grant cycle has three categories: State Organization/Network Grants, State Mini-Grants, and Local Program Grants. For more information, contact Grants Manager Coral Edwards at [email protected]
. Completed applications are due by June 13th.
Spotlight on amazing Staff, Volunteers and Supporters.
County Programs Honor and Celebrate CASA Volunteers
Not only was the month of April National Child Abuse Prevention Month, but it was also National Volunteer Appreciation Month! Throughout the month of April, CASA programs throughout the state hosted various volunteer recognition celebrations to acknowledge the incredible work of their volunteers.
None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of the Arizona Lottery. The Arizona Lottery generously donated the funds to organize and host these special events, and the state and county CASA programs are extremely grateful.
Check out some photos of these celebrations below, and join us in thanking each and every CASA volunteer for their extraordinary commitment and dedication to serving children.
In Yuma County, the Judges Award for Outstanding Advocacy was presented to Gladys Schalm by the Family Court Judges, in recognition of her professionalism in the courtroom representing foster children in 2013. (Pictured above from left to right: Judge Stocking-Tate, CASA Volunteer Gladys Schalm, and Judge Reeves.)
CASA of Pinal County hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Brunch and 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Historic Courthouse in Florence. Afterwards, CASA staff and volunteers, along with the Juvenile Court Judges, posed for this commemorative photo on the courthouse steps (pictured above).
CASA volunteers in Navajo County were honored at Celebrations restaurant in Snowflake where they were treated to dinner, entertainment, and a custom CASA cake. CASA staff and volunteers gathered for this celebratory group photo (pictured above).
In Pima County, CASA volunteers were invited to a luncheon at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. After the lunch program and award ceremony, the CASA Award nominees and winners assembled for this group photo (pictured above).
CASA of Maricopa County Receives "Promising Practices" Spotlight Award from National CASA
Court Orientation for Dependent Youth (CODY) Project
Congratulations to CASA of Maricopa County for receiving the National CASA "Promising Practices" Spotlight Award for the Court Orientation for Dependent Youth (CODY) project. CODY educates foster youth 12 years of age and older about the dependency court process and the importance of their voice within it.
Each month, foster youth ages 12-17 participate in this special court orientation. A panel comprised of attorneys, foster care alumni, child welfare staff, a CASA volunteer, court staff and a judicial officer meet with the young person in a court room at juvenile court. Each panelist provides a brief presentation on their individual roles within a dependency court case. Courtroom procedures are discussed, along with an explanation of a foster youth's rights. Foster alumni share their personal experience in the court system and encourage those in attendance to become active on their own cases.
All youth receive personalized FosterClub binders containing the most current information about their case. An informal pizza dinner is also provided, and panelists including the judge make themselves available to answer questions and visit with participating youth.
The program has demonstrated great success, with statistics showing that older youth who attended CODY were more apt to become involved in their case than those that did not attend. The overall chance of a youth attending court after CODY rose by 35.7%, a statistic that CASA of Maricopa County hopes to ultimately increase to over 70%.
Community Honors CASA Coordinator
Kirk Grugel Short Presented with Two Awards in Navajo County
The Program Coordinator for CASA of Navajo County, Kirk Grugel Short, was the recipient of two very special honors from his local community this past April. He not only received an award for Pinetop-Lakeside Citizen of the Year (pictured left), but days later was presented with a Distinguished Service Award at the Navajo County Victims' Rights Symposium. Special congratulations to Kirk for these wonderful acknowledgments of his commitment to children in his community.
CASA Volunteer in Pima County Recognized
Cynthia Dean Receives Child Abuse Prevention Award
Two CASA volunteers in Pima County, Cynthia Dean and Marion Pickens, were recently nominated for a Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Award. This award is given to individuals who are making a difference in the prevention of child abuse. Cynthia Dean was one of the three winners in this category, and was presented with her award at the March for Children event on Sunday, April 13th (pictured above). Congratulations, Cynthia!
Training & Resources
2014 Advocacy Academy Schedule
The dates for the first quarter of Advocacy Academy are now available and listed below. If you have any questions regarding Academy enrollment, please contact Lori Heredia at [email protected].
Tucson Academy: June 5-6 at the PCJCC Training Center
Phoenix Academy: July 18-19 at the Administrative Office of the Courts (Room 101 has capacity of 150 attendees)
Tucson Academy: August 7-8 at the Abrams Building
Flex Learning Updates
Flex Learning is officially up and running in several counties throughout the state. CASA of Pima County has already completed its train-the-trainer, and CASA of Maricopa County is currently enrolled and halfway through the course. Both Pima and Maricopa County programs have already scheduled their second sessions. CASA of Yavapai County has also confirmed its first Flex training, and is scheduled to begin on June 19th.
Flex Learning is an alternative to the traditional 30-hour training track that incorporates Getting Started, the two-day state Academy, and Beyond the Basics. With Flex Learning, cohorts of up to 15 participants are given in-person training in their home county for three hours weekly and engage in online learning for three hours weekly for five weeks (a 'blended' training approach). The online portion is monitored and facilitated by CASA of Arizona to meet statutory pre-service training requirements.
For more information, contact Lori Heredia at [email protected]
Updates, summaries and articles.
Interview with Honorable Kevin White
By Kayla Fulmer, CASA Marketing and Outreach Specialist
Courts across the state and nation have been working diligently to address the emerging issue of crossover youth, a term defining juveniles who have experienced abuse and neglect, as well as have engaged in delinquency.
Judge Kevin White in Pinal County is among the judicial leaders who are committed to serving these children. As the Associate Presiding Judge of the Pinal County Superior Court, Judge White is currently assigned to the Juvenile Bench, and oversees both dependency and delinquency cases. He says the connection among the two is undeniable.
"Unfortunately there is a connection. Often times, the abuse and neglect experienced by these children yields significant behavioral issues, which later develops into delinquent acts," he says.
Judge White says that there are often less options for children in dependency, as they do not have a family to support them, therefore no alternative to detention once a delinquent act takes place.
The awareness of this disadvantage has acutely impacted Judge White's commitment to his work, a commitment that has an emotional component as well as a practical one.
"Like most people, kids have a special place in my heart. It's not hard to be motivated to come to work when you are working to protect vulnerable children who have been abused and neglected," he says. "But from a public policy perspective, I also feel that it is vital to get a hold of these kids at an age where they can be rehabilitated, and their issues addressed. Otherwise the cost we will pay is dear."
Despite his extensive experience and expertise, Judge White says there are certain cases that never fail to leave an impact. He recalls a specific dependency case of a thirteen year old girl who had assaulted staff in a treatment facility, only to find out that she was suffering from extensive issues as a result of her abuse and neglect.
"I'm struck at how as a community we can feel complete outrage when we hear these stories of abuse, but when we are actually there addressing it, the resources are missing. Despite our best efforts, something doesn't translate, and those painful, excruciating delays in service can be extraordinarily frustrating."
Despite these systemic barriers, Judge White remains a stalwart optimist when it comes to the future of these vulnerable youth.
"There's this common image of what a juvenile delinquent looks like...this idea that they have committed these acts and they have no hope, no prospect of turning their lives around," he says. "So many people don't appreciate how many kids do have incredible turnarounds. I've seen children with issues so extreme that it would be difficult to imagine, yet with the right services and supports, they have become tremendously successful. Those stories aren't told nearly enough."
Judge White also credits the CASA program as an invaluable tool in his work with these dependent and delinquent youth.
"Angels of mercy, I call them," he says. "I have 275 cases, the CASA has one. There are things that can slip by when you have a full calendar, you can develop a distorted definition of what an ordinary case is. When that CASA volunteer has fresh eyes to look at that case, they really see it at a human level, and they can convey that to the court," Judge White says.
"They see the little things that might slip by, which are often so critical for kids...they need their glasses fixed, they want their favorite toy, they want to see their pet. CASA volunteers bring a sense of perspective; they remind us that what might be ordinary to the system is not ordinary for these kids. It is an extremely traumatic event for that whole family."
Judge White says that although the CASA program offers incredible support, more still needs to be done to serve these children.
"The public needs to know that we under serve our youth. These children have compelling needs, and in order to deal with them effectively, we have to have resources available and be willing to pay. If not, we will pay later. And the cost later is far greater, to the child and to the society as a whole," he says.
"We need to get it right with these kids while we have a chance."
ARIZONA INFORMANT: "SAVING OUR CHILDREN" SERIES
The Arizona Informant Newspaper has generously partnered with CASA of Arizona to publish a year long series of articles addressing the struggles of African American children in care, as well as showcase the local leaders that are spearheading the efforts to help them. Special thanks to the Arizona Informant for their commitment and dedication to making a difference in the lives of these children. Check out the latest installment of the "Saving Our Children" series printed in the Arizona Informant below.
Joining a host of previous studies, recent research by the Children and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois finds that youth who have experienced abuse and neglect are more likely to engage in juvenile delinquency than are youth in the general population. Thanks to CASA volunteers like Oscar Quintero, this is not necessarily the case for children in Yuma County.
The momentum in addressing the needs of crossover youth continues to grow, not only in Arizona, but nationwide. Crossover youth is a term used in the courts to describe children who have been victims of abuse and neglect, and have also been engaged in delinquency. Although there are a host of complex needs and services that must be implemented to support these children, Oscar has a unique advantage in connecting with these vulnerable youth. He also, was once a youth in the delinquent system.
At the age of 14, Oscar had his first run in with law enforcement due to drug possession. He ran into trouble again for disorderly conduct during his first week at school, resulting in him serving two terms of intensive probation before the age of 18. Despite these obstacles, Oscar possessed a keen insight that afforded him a second chance.
"Deep inside, I knew I had to take advantage of the programs that probation was offering me. It was a week before my 17th birthday and I realized that I had to start thinking about my future. In one more year I was going to be an adult, and I was running out of time. I knew it was time I do something with my life," he said.
That is exactly what Oscar did. Four years later, he is now a seventh grade social studies teacher, as well as a full time student studying political science, with aspirations of someday becoming a lawyer. He is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and he works specifically with abused and neglected children who have also gotten involved in juvenile delinquency.
After first joining the CASA program in August of 2013, Oscar received his first delinquency case in December. The child he was assigned was fourteen years old with a history of drug abuse, and lived in a dope house in the same city that Oscar was from. Their similarities were not lost on Oscar's CASA child, who was excited to learn he would be working with Oscar, and felt very comfortable being open with him from the start.
"That environment was all that he knew, and I wanted to show him something different," Oscar said. "I wanted him to see what's out there in life, and help create a path for him. Once he saw there was a different world out there, he realized he wanted that.
Oscar's CASA child has already shown incredible progress in their few months together. Oscar says that that he is no longer using drugs, is getting straight A's, and is student president of his high school.
While Oscar finds great motivation in the accomplishments of the child with whom he's working, he realizes that the vast majority of crossover youth will not experience this same success.
In fact, according to a recent study from the CDC, children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime.
As described in a report from the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, "Abused young people often carry scars of trauma and pain, which can inform delinquent behavior that leads to subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system."
The additional challenges that young people in foster care often face, including education difficulties, mental health issues, substance abuse, and placement instability, are major contributing factors in the likelihood of those children becoming involved in both dependency and delinquency. A study in LA County showed that 55% of their crossover youth had been relocated between group homes and foster care placements three or more times during their time in foster care.
The presence of these potential risk factors reflects the critical opportunity that CASA volunteers have to impact the lives of foster youth. Oscar's influence was recently celebrated at the CASA of Yuma County Volunteer Banquet, where Oscar was presented with the Shining Star Award, a special recognition for CASA volunteers who have done outstanding work with delinquent children.
"The Shining Star Award is a symbol of all of the people who helped me with my successful reintegration into society," said Oscar. "It's also a symbol of the hope I want to give to other young people out there...hope that they too can go that extra mile and shine."
Oscar emphasizes the importance of reaching foster youth before it's too late. "To help these kids before they turn 18 is a once in a lifetime chance," he said. "If you can connect with them before they age out of the system, they can start fresh and be whoever they want to be. Once they're an adult, those mistakes can stay with them forever, and they deserve a better opportunity than that. They deserve to be inspired, and to be nurtured."
"Whether you learn the hard way or the good way, you've got to learn," said Oscar. "If I can somehow help those kids learn what they need to know, then I believe it is my local responsibility to do that. We need those leaders out here in our community, not in our prisons."
For more information on becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate like Oscar, contact Kayla Fulmer at (602) 452-3683 or [email protected].
Pima County Family Drug Court Receives CFF Grant
Pima County Family Drug Court has been selected as one of four programs to receive a grant award to strengthen parenting and children's services for vulnerable families.
Children and Family Futures (CFF) is pleased to announce the selection of these four Prevention and Family Recovery (PFR) Family Drug Court (FDC) grantees that will embark on an intensive two-year initiative to provide more comprehensive family-centered care to children, parents and families affected by substance use disorders and child abuse and neglect. The individual grant awards of $225,000 over two years were made possible with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (based in New York, NY) and The Duke Endowment (based in Charlotte, NC).
The goals of PFR are to demonstrate how a comprehensive family-centered approach grounded in effective cross-systems collaboration can improve child, parent and family outcomes, particularly in preventing child abuse or neglect, promoting reunification and strengthening parent-child relationships.
The four grantees represent a mix of well-established and experienced urban and rural FDCs. They are:
"We are excited to support these FDC teams as they bolster their collective efficacy to promote children's healthy development and nurturing parent-child relationships," said Lola Adedokun, acting program officer for the Child Well-being Program at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which is supporting the Pima, San Francisco and Tompkins County sites.
- Pima County Family Drug Court - Tucson, AZ
- San Francisco Dependency Drug Court - San Francisco, CA
- Tompkins County Family Treatment Court - Ithaca, NY
- Robeson County Family Treatment Court - Lumberton, NC
The Duke Endowment is supporting the Robeson County site. "We welcome this opportunity to expand the FDC's early intervention and collaborative approach to benefit vulnerable children in North Carolina and keep families stable and together," said Phillip H. Redmond, Jr., associate director of the Child Care program area at The Duke Endowment.
CFF, a southern California based non-profit with nearly 20 years of experience, will work closely with the four FDC teams, providing intensive technical assistance and expert consultation to improve their capacity to implement and sustain comprehensive family-centered care and facilitate practice and larger systems improvements to better serve families.
"In the end, we envision that the PFR grantees will become flagship collaborative courts that provide leadership and support for comprehensive, integrated family-centered care and advance breakthrough strategies to improve family functioning and well-being," said Dr. Nancy K. Young, Director of CFF.
Stories from county programs.
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
Huge Success for Annual Elvis Event in Yuma
CASA of Maricopa County Presents at National CASA Urban Initiative Meeting
Program Director of CASA Of Maricopa County, Laurie Laughlin pictured with National CASA CEO, Michael Piriano at the National CASA Urban Initiative Meeting held in New Orleans last March. Laurie was asked to present at the event on both the 2011 National CASA Promising Practices Award-Winning Peer Coordinator Service Model and the Knowing Who You Are Training Curriculum. Twenty two urban programs were in attendance, and Laurie represented Arizona well!
On March 14th, community members came out in droves to see Elvis "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" at the Yuma Civic Center. Guests enjoyed a live concert, prizes, and dance and costume contests, with all proceeds benefitting CASA of Yuma County. CASA of Yuma County Coordinator, Dennis O'Rourke and Support Staff, Veronica Davis (pictured right) also hosted an information table to educate attendees about the CASA program and the need for additional volunteers.
CASA Staff and Volunteers in Navajo County Attend Zero to Five Conference
In April, CASA staff and volunteers from CASA of Navajo County traveled to Laughlin to attend the Infant Toddler Mental Health Symposium.
Pictured left: Gail DeCross, Kirk Grugel, Shelley Douglas, Linda McGovern, Linda Hallman and Alysia Heward.
Growing Academy Attendance in Southern Arizona
CASA is excited to share that the Advocacy Academy in Southern Arizona is experiencing tremendous growth in recent months! In April, the class had 17 new advocates in attendance, including 14 from Pima County, 2 from Apache County, and 1 from Pinal County. Keep up the good work!
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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