Updates from National, State, County and Local Programs.
Four County Programs Pursue Additional Funding Sources
CASA of Arizona extends its warmest congratulations to CASA of Pima and Yuma Counties as they celebrate receiving grant funding from National CASA. In addition, CASA of Yavapai and Pinal Counties have received additional funding for personnel through their respective Board of Supervisors. Kudos to these counties for their innovation and exciting program growth!
Pinal County Starts POD Groups to Unit Volunteers
Submitted by Greg Clark and Donna McBride, CASA of Pinal County
Being a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Pinal County is unique in many ways as you compare CASA programs around Arizona. Pinal County, with nearly 80 volunteers, is spread out over a large area with our courthouse located in the small town of Florence. Many of our volunteers have to drive at least an hour just to get to court. Many Pinal volunteers do not know each other due to logistics, making them sometimes feel isolated in CASA Pinal County.
Pinal County CASA staff wanted to find a way to bring our volunteers together more often and that is how the CASA Pods idea was created. The idea of creating regional groups or "Pods" has now become a reality. In a nutshell, a Pod is a way for members who live in a certain area to meet and develop a network of "pod members" where they can meet, train, socialize and promote CASA of Pinal County.
We had our first meeting in East Mesa with some volunteers from the Apache Junction/ Gold Canyon area in late November. Part of the meeting was spent on "CASA Coffee Talk" - an exercise where volunteers interview each other and get to know each other. Those in attendance agreed to exchange email addresses and phone numbers to better keep in touch following the upcoming holidays. We feel that networking with other positive CASA people will only add to the CASA experience and help with both recruitment and retention. New pods have since formed in San Tan Valley and Maricopa.
There are so many possibilities and advantages of CASA Pods, including the advantages of utilizing the many backgrounds of some of our volunteers who bring to Pinal CASA a wealth of educational and work place experiences. Our volunteers include former teachers, college professors, and published authors to social workers, pediatric nurses, lawyers and child development specialists.
It is clear that CASA Pinal County has a wealth of talented professionals who have chosen to volunteers for our courts. We feel that having volunteers become better connected is an advantage to our volunteers, our court, and the children we serve.
Notes from National CASA
2014 State and Local Grant Applications Now Available
The 2013 National CASA Annual Report is now live on CASAforChildren.org. Read a letter from CEO Michael Piraino and view highlights and financial information from 2013. Click here
to access the report.
Upcoming Training Opportunites
Check out these wonderful upcoming training opportunities!
Meaningful Interventions with Domestic Violence Perpetrators
Presented by David Mandel
Domestic violence and child maltreatment frequently intersect in the family but, too often, the response of the system is fragmented. With 25 years of experience in the field, David Mandel provides a poignant narrative about those most deeply affected. Participants will be challenged to examine their own perceptions and expectations of the victim and the perpetrator of domestic violence. Specific practices will be highlighted that can lead to improved safety and permanency outcomes for Arizona's foster children. You won't want to miss this discussion...
Date, Time: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Location: Arizona Supreme Court (State Courts Building)
1501 W. Washington, Conference Room 101
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Registration: ONLINE REGISTRATION (FREE OF CHARGE) We have moved to a new registration system. Should you require registration assistance, SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS and DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS are available. For further assistance, contact Victor Machiche at (602) 452-3525 or [email protected].
How To Help Children Overcome The Influences Of Trauma
Presented by Patrick Goodman, Kristi Murphy, Samantha White
Learn about trauma and how it impacts children, and the best ways to interact with children who have been traumatized.
Date, Time: Saturday, November 1st, 2014, 9:00am to 3:00pm
- How to engage and connect with traumatized children
- The importance of the relationship between a parent and child and how that relationship sets the ground work for future successes
- Decrease chances of re-traumatizing children by using adverse parenting techniques
- Understand negative behaviors and what they might actually mean (as opposed to the child just being difficult or bad)
- How to correct and change undesirable behaviors
- What everyday life should look like
- Walk away empowered to immediately work with a child
Location: Sun Valley Community Church
6101 S. River Drive
Tempe, AZ 85283
Registration: ONLINE REGISTRATION HERE
Spotlight on amazing Staff, Volunteers and Supporters.
Employee Spotlight: Kourtney Greving
If anyone can appreciate the role of a Court Appointed Special Advocate, it's Kourtney Greving.
For the last two years, Kourtney has worked as a Program Coordinator in Maricopa County. But her initial experience with CASA was in a much different capacity.
Kourtney first joined the program six years ago as a CASA volunteer. "I originally wanted to become a CASA in 2008 because I wanted to advocate for children in the foster care system, give them a voice, and stand up for their best interest," she says.
In fact, being a CASA volunteer is what Kourtney says ultimately inspired her to go back to school and get her Masters degree in Social Work. During that time, Kourtney also interned for the Foster Care Review Board and was involved with local political campaigns.
Four years later, Kourtney re-joined the CASA of Maricopa County team, this time as a Program Coordinator. It is in her current position where she is now able to provide a special perspective to the volunteers that she manages.
"It was serendipitous that a position opened up for CASA after I graduated with my Masters degree," she says. "In my current position, I am able to support passionate advocates that work very hard with children and teams to ensure that the child's best interest is being served."
On a daily basis, Kourtney supports current advocates, interviews and trains new advocates, and provides ongoing training to volunteers. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, her response was simple: "working with my advocates."
"The work that they do continues to inspire me, and each of them shines their own light into a system that is not always easy to work within. They are some of the most phenomenal individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing," she says.
"I have learned that nothing equates to the heart of a volunteer and the passion that comes with that. It is my hope that one day we have enough CASA advocates so that when a child comes into foster care they will be greeted by a CASA advocate immediately. Every child deserves that."
Mohave County Holds Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon
Submitted by Luann Gardner, CASA of Mohave County
Check out these photos from the CASA of Mohave County Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on July 15th at the Kingman Elk's Lodge!
Pictured above: Luann Gardner, CASA Coordinator and Volunteer of the Year, Carol Turney from Kingman.
Pictured above: Mary Shamowski, CASA Coordinator and Volunteer of the Year, Beverly Siemens from Bullhead City.
Pictured above: Judge Weiss presented Joan Cates-Jacks with a Certificate for "Making a Difference to More than One".
2014 Summer-Kick Off Event In Pima County
Submitted By Krissa Ericson and Jill LaBrie, CASA of Pima County
On Monday June 16, CASA of Pima County held the 2014 Summer Kick-Off Event for our wonderful CASA volunteers. About 40 people, including CASA of Pima County Staff and CASA volunteers, gathered for an ice cream social, socializing, program update presentation and Super Star Awards. Specially selected Super Star Awards were given to all CASAs who attended. Award categories included: Jacques Cousteau Award, Wonder Woman Award, Silent Behind the Scenes Award, Rookie of the Year Award, Zen Award, Star Trek Award, Teen Survivor Award, Superman Award, The Baby Whisperer Award, Purple Heart Award, The Cleaner Award, Dynamic Duo Award, and Congratulations Graduate Award. A good time was had by all!
CASA of Maricopa County Hosts "Light of Hope" Event
Submitted by Laurie Laughlin, CASA of Maricopa County
The CASA of Maricopa County Program held a Light of Hope Recognition Dinner to honor and celebrate the work and dedication of our CASA Advocates. The event was held on Saturday, June 28th, 2014 at the Church of the Beatitudes in north, central Phoenix, thanks to a grant from the Arizona Lottery, with additional funding and support from the Voices for CASA Children, Inc. board and planning committee.
CASA Advocates, staff and board members enjoyed a delicious meal from Oreganos, with a dessert bar, photo booth and DJ to round out the festivities. Victoria Strayer, Board President, and Robin Pearson, Board Executive Director, welcomed everyone and spoke on behalf of Voices for CASA Children. Laurie Laughlin, Program Director, CASA of Maricopa County, presented several awards. CASA Advocate Adele James was recognized for her years of service and for the number of children and cases she has served. Certificates were awarded to our Peer Coordinators in attendance, two of whom completed their ASU School of Social Work Internship with our program and received their B.S. degrees this year. Special recognition was given to Mack Sheesley, a CASA Advocate who helps out each week in our office with administrative support. As a special treat, Nancy Molever, Program Manager, and Amy Medley, Support Staff, both with the CASA of Arizona Program, joined us for a memorable evening.
The CASA of Maricopa County Program was grateful for the opportunity to let our CASA Advocates know how much their work is appreciated and to remind them ... "We can't do it without you!" And thank you to the CASA of Arizona Program, the Arizona Lottery and Voices for CASA Children, Inc. for their ongoing support to help us with our mission to provide an empowered CASA Advocate for all the abused and neglected children in Maricopa County.
CASA of Pinal County Welcomes New Coordinator
Submitted by Donna McBride, CASA of Pinal County
Please join us in welcoming David (Dave) Franklin to the CASA Program in Pinal County. Dave began on July 7th as the newly created Program Coordinator I position.
Dave's more recent work experience includes working with Maricopa County Superior Court and South Mountain Community College. He was recently employed as a bailiff for Maricopa County Superior Court where he has enjoyed the exposure to multiple case types and providing assistance to court visitors, jurors, and court personnel. His experience with South Mountain Community College included providing assistance to the Program Coordinator by developing resource guides, facilitating student group advisory sessions, and helping new students with their registration.
Dave has a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies - Justice Administration from Northern Arizona University, which included a primary focus on public management and justice administration.
Dave's work assignment will be working half time doing community outreach and recruitment CASA with the rest of his time with other juvenile court services programs and projects with Program Administrator/CASA Unit Supervisor Donna McBride. He comes to the Pinal County with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, which will no doubt be put to great use supporting the CASA Program and the other volunteer programs.
In Memoriam: Jackie Flowers
We have an outstanding advocate who has passed away.
Jackie Flowers was the first Court Appointed Special Advocate for the CASA of Maricopa County Program. Jackie also helped start the Phoenix Crisis Nursery and Arizonans for Children, where she remained as an emeritus board member. In 1997, Jackie was honored with the Hon Kachina Award in recognition of her outstanding volunteerism. Presented annually in Phoenix since 1977, the Hon (or healing) Kachina Volunteer Awards Program recognizes the achievement of outstanding Arizona volunteers and serves to increase public awareness about volunteerism. Initially presented to honor individuals who made significant contributions to the healthcare field, it was expanded in 1980 to include volunteer efforts in all community service areas.
Jackie and her husband Al moved to Phoenix in 1950 as newlyweds. She was a tireless lobbyist for the rights of children even then. Jackie served as a school nurse in three Arizona School Districts. In 2001, Jackie was recognized for her 20 years of service as a CASA Mentor in addition to her CASA Advocate role. Jackie will continue to be remembered with respect, gratitude and much affection with a CASA of Maricopa County Program Award of Distinction to be established in her name.
Please join us in honoring and remembering a true Champion for Children.
Training & Resources
2014 Advocacy Academy Schedule
The dates for the upcoming Advocacy Academy are now available and listed below:
Phoenix Academy: September 19-20 at the Administrative Office of the Courts (Room 101 has capacity of 150 attendees)
Tucson Academy: October 9-10 at the Abrams Building
Phoenix Academy: November 14-15 at the Administrative Office of the Courts (Room 119A&B)
Tucson Academy: December 4-5 at the Abrams Building
In addition, Academy can now 'go on the road' to be delivered in individual counties! A minimum of three qualified volunteers are required to host a local Academy, and rural counties have the option of partnering with neighboring counties to increase volume. Existing (CASA) advocates can also participate in the new Academy, increasing volunteer competence, confidence, interaction (networking), and retention.
If you have any questions regarding Academy registration and enrollment, please contact Lori Heredia at [email protected].
CASA of Arizona Customizes "I am for the child" Video
In an effort to personalize National CASA's "I am for the child" campaign video, Judge Portley and Justice Brutinel have graciously recorded a customized intro and outro regarding the need for CASA volunteers in the state of Arizona. This footage has been edited into an updated version of the video, and can be located at the YouTube link here
. Share widely with your networks and help us find an advocate for every child who needs one!
Health Insurance for Children Aging Out of Care
Children's Action Alliance Publishes Free Toolkit
As of January 1, 2014, regardless of their income, most young adults who were in foster care at age 18 and are under age 26 are entitled to enroll in Arizona's Medicaid program known as AHCCCS. These young adults are eligible for AHCCCS' Young Adult Transitional Insurance (YATI) and can enroll at any time. There is no open enrollment deadline.
For young adults who were in foster care, access to health care services and preventative care is critical in their successful transition to adulthood. Having insurance means young adults can receive important and consistent health services even after they age-out from foster care on their 18th birthdays.
Outreach efforts will be very important to ensure that young adults who qualify for this insurance can take advantage of it. There are many local and state agencies available to help young adults enroll in a health plan. Go to www.211arizona.org/aca/
for a list of community partners in your county who can assist with enrollment.
to access this free toolkit from the Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative, a project of the Children's Action Alliance.
New Toolkit on Immigration and Parental Rights
Shared by National CASA, July Bulletin
The Women's Refugee Commission has released a new publication: "Detained or Deported: What About My Children? What To Do If You Can't Be with Them."
While it is written for parents, this toolkit will also be a valuable resource for advocates, attorneys, family members and others who work with immigrant families.
"Detained or Deported: What About My Children?" guides parents and those who work with them through the steps they need to take to keep children from entering the child welfare system, locate children in that system, comply with a child welfare case plan, participate in family court and make arrangements for children at the conclusion of a parent's immigration case.
For more information or to download the toolkit in English or Spanish, see the Women's Refugee Commission website.
Updates, summaries and articles.
Interview with Honorable Kathryn Stocking-Tate
By Kayla Fulmer, CASA Marketing and Outreach Specialist
Thanks to Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Kathryn Stocking-Tate, families in Yuma County have a special resource in their toolbox: hope.
"A lot of the time, we're the only chance these kids have toward a normal life. A home without drugs and illegal activity, a home where a six year old child isn't raising a one year old child....we're the only hope these kids have," she says.
This opportunity to transform children's lives is one that Judge Stocking-Tate does not take lightly. A firm believer in delivering on promises and providing consistent services in a timely manner, Judge Stocking-Tate holds families and communities accountable for providing resources that truly support and encourage case progress.
"There is no other assignment like this one," says Judge Stocking-Tate. "You're a social worker, a mom, a teacher...you're essentially case managing from the bench. Everything is not a single issue, it's not black and white. Sometimes it's hard, but I'll stick my neck out because I'll see something in a parent, something that makes me say 'I'll give you one more opportunity.'"
There are several unique characteristics of her community in Yuma County that challenge Judge Stocking-Tate in her work. She says high unemployment rates, economic pressures, a close proximity to the border, and limited resources all contribute to the barriers in providing services to families.
Despite these systemic obstacles, Judge Stocking-Tate remains motivated and inspired by her work on the bench.
She recalls a recent case of a young woman who was about to turn 18 after spending years in long term foster care. Committed to making something of her life, this young woman managed to defy the odds and graduate high school early. She is currently enrolled to begin nursing classes at Arizona Western College, and is already working at a hospital.
"She had goals, things that she wanted to do, and she decided that her circumstances weren't going to define her. She wasn't going to let the system hold her back from her dreams," says Judge Stocking-Tate.
When the time came to dismiss her case, Judge Stocking-Tate went above and beyond to support this young woman in her goals. Knowing that a reliable watch was a key item in the nursing profession, Judge Stocking-Tate worked with the CASA program to present this young lady with a good, dependable watch at her last hearing.
Judge Stocking-Tate's responsibilities extend far beyond her current caseload. As Presiding Judge, she is also responsible for the entire operation of Yuma County's Juvenile Court. This includes overseeing the charter high school, probation department, 79 bed detention facility, budget administration, Foster Care Review Board, and last but certainly not least, the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program.
Judge Stocking-Tate's first experience with CASA dates back long before she was on the bench. In 1996, Judge Stocking-Tate worked as a contract attorney with the Juvenile Court in dependency cases, and recalls the notable impact of when CASA volunteers came on board.
"They were very helpful in getting to the root of the problem. They were allowed to have a more open relationship with the families and the children, and therefore always provided a different perspective and insight into the cases," she says.
Now on her ninth year on the bench, Judge Stocking-Tate holds a special appreciation for the contributions of CASA volunteers on her cases. "CASAs offer valuable information about cases and about families. They have more freedom to be honest about how they feel, and share their opinions about how a case should go."
While the CASA program provides an important resource for community advocacy, a greater understanding of juvenile court and dependency matters is still needed in Yuma County. Judge Stocking-Tate says that one of the largest misconceptions surrounding her work is the idea that children are in dependency because they've done something wrong.
"People don't fully appreciate how things that happen to kids impact their entire life," she says. "The effect of trauma on a young child is something that we need to address, and offer services that allow families to recover from it."
"My biggest fear is that we descend upon these families and we actually make things worse," says Judge Stocking-Tate. "It's important to know that even when faced with seemingly insurmountable problems that the system can work, we can help. We can make a positive impact, we can make a change, and these kids will benefit from it."
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.
Each year, thousands of children in Maricopa County are reunified with their families after spending time in the foster care system, most commonly due to substance abuse or neglect allegations. This June, Maricopa County joined a nationwide effort to recognize families who have successfully overcome these personal challenges to provide safe, loving, and permanent homes for their children.
In the time period of March 2013 through September 2013, 2,718 children exited Arizona's foster care system due to being reunified with their family, compared to 1,215 children who exited the system due to adoption, according to data from the Department of Child Safety. In fact, more than half of the 15,037 Arizona children currently in foster care have a primary case plan goal of family reunification.
In an effort to honor these families and celebrate their accomplishments, Governor Jan Brewer declared June 7th, 2014 as Arizona Family Reunification Day. On that same day, Maricopa County hosted its first annual Reunification Day Celebration: "Families Make it Happen" at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in downtown Phoenix.
At the event, five families who have successfully regained custody of their children from the foster care system were honored with lunch and a commemorative program. Each of the families was personally nominated and selected to participate, and were presented with a "Hero Certificate" by Presiding Juvenile Judge Colleen McNally of the Maricopa County Superior Court.
Families also enjoyed face painting, balloon animals, a fire truck demonstration, and entertainment from a DJ and local dance troupe. Other attendees included judges, attorneys, community service providers, and child welfare advocates, all of whom are key stakeholders who play important roles in helping families reunify.
"All children need the care, love, security, and stability of family unity to provide a solid foundation for personal growth, development and maturity," said Judge Colleen McNally. "Reunification Day is an observance to honor families for successfully overcoming the challenges that brought their children into care, thus reunifying and creating a safe and permanent home for their children."
When child abuse or neglect has occurred, children may be removed from their home to ensure their safety and well-being. Parents then have an opportunity to address the challenges which led to their children's removal. This includes the creation and fulfillment of a detailed case plan, and the provision of necessary services and resources. In order to complete this process, parents must work closely and comply with orders from a judge, and also meet regularly with caseworkers, attorneys, and service providers.
Event organizers said they will continue hosting Reunification Day events each year, not only as a day of celebration, but also as a public platform to inspire other families who may currently be involved with the child welfare system.
Maricopa County is just one of several communities throughout the country that hosted a Reunification Day event during the month of June, which is National Reunification Month.
Organizers of this inaugural event included the Maricopa County Superior Court, the Arizona Supreme Court, the Arizona Office of the Attorney General, Maricopa County Office of the Legal Advocate, Maricopa County Office of the Legal Defender, Maricopa County Office of the Public Advocate, the Division of Child Safety and Family Services, CASA of Maricopa County, CASA of Arizona, Casey Family Programs, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, and Voices for CASA Children.
"Reunification takes work, commitment, and the investment of time and resources by parents, caseworkers, foster parents, service providers, advocates, and the courts," said Judge McNally. "This family reunification celebration really recognizes the great progress that Maricopa County is making in keeping families safe and together."
Arizona Friends of Foster Care Launches New Program
The Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF) has recently embarked on the "Keys to Success" program, a pilot program in Maricopa County to serve youth in foster care ages 15-17 with one on one career development and employment services molded to the very unique needs of each youth.
In the recent Executive Summary for the Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative, youth aging out of foster care stated that the thing that is missing from their current experience is "individual assistance with resumes, job applications and building a network of employers who are willing to hire foster youth and alumni beyond subsidized internships." The AFFCF "Keys to Success" program will address that gap.
AFFCF is currently seeking youth in foster care in Maricopa County ages 15 - 17 to participate in the pilot program. They will receive:
Contact Kris Jacober at 602-252-9445 or e-mail [email protected] to learn more about the program or to refer a youth.
- Evidence based evaluation to help youth identify their individual skills and interests, and become expert on their 'best selves.'
- One on one career exploration, planning and employment development sessions with a professional Career Development Specialist.
- Individualized job placement for each youth that aligns with their short and long term career goals.
- Ongoing follow up between the youth and Employment Specialist to ensure employment retention.
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
New County Staff Join CASA of Arizona for Coordinator Training and Lunch
CASA of Maricopa County Receives "Promising Practices" Award from National CASA
On June 7th, Program Director of CASA of Maricopa County, Laurie Laughlin, accepted the "Promising Practices" Spotlight Award at the National CASA Conference in Grapevine, Texas. Pictured left is Laurie Laughlin with National CASA CEO, Michael Piriano and CASA Spokeswoman, Amy Gregorio.
On July 22nd and 23rd, Program Coordinators from Apache and Pinal Counties traveled to the AOC to attend New Coordinator Training.
In addition, two new Coordinators from Maricopa County joined the group for an introductory lunch. Pictured left is Dave Franklin from Pinal County enjoying lunch with CASA of Arizona staff Lori Heredia, Amy Medley, and Laura Harries.
CASA of Pima County Hosts Coffee with CASA Events
On Tuesday July 22nd, CASA of Pima County hosted their first Coffee with CASA event at Beyond Bread. This was the first of 4 recruiting events being held in Pima County where local businesses are partnering with CASA Pima County and offer up space and publicizing their community information sessions. The response to the first event was great, and they are looking forward to continued success in their future events. Special thanks the Beyond Bread for hosting 3 events in Tucson, and Posada Java who is hosting our Green Valley/Sahuarita event.
CASA of Arizona Attends Housing Resource Fair for Gap Closing Collaborative
On July 24th, Kayla Fulmer from the state CASA office attended a Housing Resource Fair for older youth in foster care. This event was part of the Gap Closing Collaborative, a community initiative working to reduce the disproportionate number of African American children in care. CASA of Arizona looks forward to its continued involvement with these wonderful community partners!
CASA of La Paz County Swears in Two New Advocates
On July 29th, CASA of Arizona's Program Manager, Nancy Molever, joined Judge Vederman and CASA of La Paz County Program Coordinator, Sativa Castellucci in swearing in two new CASA volunteers. Welcome to Amanda and Whitney!
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!
|For more information on IMPACT E-News or CASA of Arizona, please contact:
Marketing and Outreach Specialist
CASA of Arizona