IMPACT E-News Spring 2015

State Office Updates
Launching Soon: Volunteer Management System

The AOC's IT department has been in the process of developing a CASAaz application for use throughout the state.

CASAaz is a user friendly web-based volunteer management system that was adapted from Maricopa County's Dashboard application, and will be utilized to manage volunteer applications, hours, training compliance, court reports, etc.  CASAaz will also encompass the creation of CASAaz email addresses for CASA volunteers.

The state office is currently scheduled to pilot the rollout of the CASAaz application in April with CASA of Pinal County. CASA of Pinal County was chosen due to its size and location, and will serve as a test sample to determine any programmatic issues or changes before rolling it out to the rest of the state.  Once finalized, the intention is to rollout CASAaz regionally, with the state office training county staff on how to use the application. Once trained, county staff will be responsible for training their advocates.

CASA of Arizona looks forward to utilizing this new resource with programs and advocates statewide!

Free Appreciation Event for CASA Advocates 

CASA advocates across the state are now able to attend the Arizona Blue Ribbon Event with their assigned child(ren)! This FREE appreciation event includes activities as well as a baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Pittsburgh Pirates. More details, as well as event registration, can be found at 
Please mention your affiliation with CASA in the "comments" section of the registration page.

 If you have any questions, contact Kayla Fulmer at [email protected] or 602-452-3683. 
County Coordinators Provide Network Support 

We would like to acknowledge three county coordinators who have gone above and beyond to support other programs in our network that have recently undergone staff changes. Join us in extending our sincerest thanks to Krissa Ericson (Program Supervisor, Pima), Stephanie Fink (Program Coordinator, Apache), and Dennis O'Rourke (Program Coordinator, Yuma). Each of them has provided invaluable assistance to the CASA programs in Gila, Navajo, and La Paz counties as they transition with new program staff.

Welcomes and Farewells

In the past quarter, we have been pleased to welcome three new county staff to our CASA team: Dan McKeen (Program Coordinator, Gila), Nichelle Ridenour (Support Staff, Gila), and Joanna Zigler (Program Coordinator, Maricopa).

In addition, several county and state staff have resigned or retired from their roles. Join us in wishing farewell to: Lyndsie Butler (Gila), Sylvia Flores (Yuma), Dave Franklin (Pinal), Luann Gardner (Mohave), Laura Harries (State), Patti Keyworth (Gila), Amy Medley (State), Laura Pahules (Maricopa), and Caryn Strober (Pima). We wish you all the best!
County Program Highlights
CASA of Pima County is On the Air!
Submitted by Krissa Ericson, CASA of Pima County

On January 12, 2015, five Pima County CASA advocates entered the KOLD studios as television watchers and left as television commercial actors and actresses!  We are very excited to have a new CASA commercial airing here in Pima County.  

Our grant from National CASA will allow us to have it run on KOLD 13 for the next 5 months.  We have already had several inquiries in the 2 weeks that it has been running.  One call came just 7 minutes after the commercial aired!  We are impressed by the quick response of many people and excited to see how this media outlet will help us grow.  


CODY Now Offered in Yavapai County
Submitted by Eileen Bond, CASA of Yavapai County
The Court Orientation for Dependent Youth (CODY) program started in 2013 as a project of the CASA of Maricopa County program, with a grant from National CASA, to encourage youth to attend their court hearings and familiarize them with the dependency process - to let them know they have a voice and encourage them to use it.  The program won the 2014 National CASA Promising Practices Award and continues to be active in Maricopa County. 


In summary, the program brings dependent youth, age 12 and up, to court after-hours for a courtroom presentation that describes how the court moves through the dependency process, and the roles of each of the participants. The presenters are: a Judge, an Assistant Attorney General, a parent's attorney, a child's attorney, a child's GAL, a CASA, a DCS worker and a youth (foster graduate). After the presentation, a meal is available, and the youth and presenters mingle and talk informally. Each youth is given a binder with information about the court process and a card with their case number, the date and time of their next hearing, and the name, phone number and e-mail of their attorney, GAL and CASA.


A CASA of Yavapai County volunteer who attended the presentation at the 2014 National CASA Conference, and again at the Prevent Child Abuse Conference in Phoenix, brought the program to the attention of Tracy Sauer, Yavapai County Dependency Program Manager, and Judge Anna Young, Yavapai County Presiding Juvenile Judge, with the idea that it would be perfect for Yavapai County.  The idea was heartily endorsed by Judge Young and Tracy Sauer and implementation went forward under the auspices of "Time for Teens", a CASA of Yavapai County program, dedicated to meeting the needs of older youth in foster care. The commitment of financial support for actual expenses (food and binders) came from the two Yavapai County CASA support organizations.


The first CODY session in Yavapai County took place at the Verde Valley Courthouse on December 1, 2014 with Judge Young, local attorneys, DCS workers, and a local CASA volunteer presenting. Arizona's Children Association brought a delightful young lady who is a foster alumni in the Independent Living program to explain why she still believes it is extremely important for dependent youth to attend their court hearings and exercise their own voice in the dependency. Seven dependent youth living in the Verde Valley attended and all rated the program as useful and leading to a better understanding of what everyone does and how their own involvement will benefit them.  After the presentation, a wonderful meal was made available by the Verde Valley CASA Children's Foundation, and the youth and presenters were able to mingle and talk informally. Each youth was given a binder with information about the court process and a card with their case number, the date and time of their next hearing, and the name, phone number and e-mail of their attorney and/or GAL and CASA.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015 was the first CODY presentation at the Prescott Juvenile Justice Center, and it was fantastic. Binders were passed out and again, the Judge, local attorneys, a DCS worker, a CASA volunteer, and a foster alumni presented. Thirteen youth currently in the foster care system attended the program and they asked lots of questions.  At the end of the program, the youth lined up with Judge Young, behind the bench, "to see how things look from this perspective."  After the courtroom session, everyone enjoyed an extraordinary meal provided by Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation. Looking around the room one could see that the dinner with everyone talking to one another was probably as important as the courtroom presentations. Watching the youth interact one on one with the attorneys, Judge Young, and the CASA volunteers demonstrated that our youth can learn that their voices actually do count! 


Yavapai County is grateful to the CASA of Maricopa County office for mentoring us through this process. We encourage other county CASA programs to consider this valuable program and make it available to their dependent youth.


Yavapai County CASA plans to continue the CODY program with additional presentations later in the year.

CASA Advocate Steps Up for Best for Babies
Submitted by Greg Clark, CASA of Pinal County


Dr. Kay Halverson has been with CASA of Pinal County since 2012 and has hit the ground running! Living in Gold Canyon, "Dr. Kay" has taken on challenging cases from the very beginning and seems to gravitate towards the younger children who come to the court as foster children. She is passionate about being a voice for younger children who cannot speak for themselves. Before her retirement, Kay was an associate professor of early childhood and special education, a director of a university child development center, a child and family therapist at a mental health center, as well as an infant and preschool specialist at two different state departments of education.

 As the Pinal County Superior Court is moving to adopt the Best for Babies concept, Kay has graciously volunteered to serve on a court steering committee to help guide the process in addition to her other CASA duties.  This model of care will help get the right services in place early for our younger children and improve the foster care outcome. Always positive, always showing ownership in her assigned CASA case and as a CASA recruiter, Dr. Kay Halverson is a valued member of our team and a voice for foster children!

CASA Presents to "ChangeisHappening" Group 
Submitted by Krissa Ericson, CASA of Pima County

In January, CASA of Pima County had the opportunity to present for the community of Green Valley and Sahuarita.  The community group, ChangeisHappening, has invited CASA to present on two separate occasions.  We assembled a panel of CASA stakeholders and took our show on the road. READ MORE


Our panel consisted of our Juvenile Court Presiding Judge, a CASA advocate, CASA program staff and a former CASA youth.  Our former CASA youth, Dimon, did a fantastic job sharing her 5 year journey in the dependency/foster care system and allowing listeners an opportunity to hear about the impact her CASA advocate, Cynthia, had. 

Kim Smith, Pima County Juvenile Court's Public Information Officer, sent out a press release about this event and as a result we had 2 news interviews.  We are thankful for community groups that invite us to educate the community about the role of a CASA advocate and the impact an advocate has on a dependency case.  Visit our website and watch the interviews!


Never Let Them See You Cry
Submitted by Lydia Mercier, CASA Advocate

I'd made it sixteen months without a slip. Warmed in the rosy-glow of the team efforts to reunite a child with his mother, watching a family become 'forever' through adoption, seeing the big wheel turn to change the life of a mother and her two tiny's been a wonderful sixteen months. Then it happened. No one saw it happen. You never want anyone to see. It may happen when you are all alone, in the dark, driving home from a visit of one of your special kids. It hits you like a punch to the stomach:  this child needs more than the revolving door of care-givers, even in the best group home and a CASA that visits twice a month. The operative word we are missing is HOME. This child needs a real home.

This child needs: A mommy to teach her to bake cupcakes and kneel beside her for bedtime prayers. This child needs a daddy to teach her to ride her two-wheeler, take her to her first 'Daddy and Me Dance' at school, and teach her that all men are not to be feared. This child needs a home where she can go to the refrigerator at any time for a Juicy-Juice box or those baby carrots she loves. She needs a home where her room sometimes does get really messy because of all her toys, books, and that dozen stuffed animals. She needs a Mommy and Daddy to visit her teachers on Parent's Night and who will burst with pride as they see a third prize, white ribbon on a castle made from oatmeal boxes.


Why cry tonight? I should be happy. We are doing some really good things for her. Unfortunately, she's used to many people coming in and out of her life. She's adjusting pretty well on the surface. The tears are because, for the first time, I see a mountain ahead that we, as CASA volunteers, might not be able to climb successfully each time. We all know (we can feel it in our hearts) that the right, special Family is out there, somewhere, for our special needs kids, but finding them is so, so difficult. The complexity of adoption profiles, privacy acts, background checks, adoption communications on the media, such as Wendy's Child all takes such time and money.

 Every new placement this child endures, every year that all makes finding a forever home a bit more difficult. The tears flow because this CASA volunteer understands by the time a child reaches 10-12 years, the prospects grow dimmer. Families are more reluctant to take a chance. The solution is not simple. The key again is with the strength and diligence of the child's CPS or DDD team.  Persistence, regular communications to the media as appropriate, visits or outings with prospective families, talking with every adoptive agency available, and most important: never giving up.


These special needs children can do none of this work themselves. They rely solely on the efforts of their team and the surrounding agencies. It is too easy in today's world to be content with finding the child a safe and caring group home. It is true there are so many children and safety must be our first concern. The numbers can be staggering.  The job might seem insurmountable.  But we, all of us, can not stop trying. There is a special family somewhere that needs only to meet this adorable, bubbly little girl, spend some time with her, and to let her melt their heart, too.


I can't say you'll never catch a CASA volunteer crying. There are so many kids that need our help and so few advocates. Perhaps we should look at our tears as fuel...fuel to energize us again to get busy, never give up, and ultimately shed the best tears of all: tears of Joy when a child has found a forever home and that special someone to tuck them in each night.

Mark Your Calendars!
Upcoming Events
March 27 & 28, 2015 (Florence, AZ)

CASA of Pinal County: Two Day Advanced CASA Bootcamp

CASA of Pinal County will host a two day "Advanced Bootcamp" for their advocates. Topics include bonding, Best For Babies, children in trauma, drug addiction, networking with other CASA advocates, and current issues facing the foster care system. Advocates who attend both days will receive 15 education credit hours, completing their yearly in-service training requirement! 

Due to limited resources, seating is restricted to CASA of Pinal County advocates only.  Space is limited, so interested attendees must RSVP by March 25th to Regina Redmond at 520-866-7076 or [email protected]

April 3, 2015 (Phoenix, AZ)

Take Back the Night 2015

Take Back the Night is a global grassroots movement uniting communities to speak out against all forms of sexual and domestic violen

ce.  The Trauma Healing Services department of La Frontera Arizona/EMPACT-SPC will be hosting Take Back the Night at the Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix from 5:00pm-9:00pm. The

 event is free and open to the community. Agencies from the community will be tabling to provide information and outreach.

Publications and Resources
Free Programs for Foster Youth

Arizonans for Children has the following free programs available for foster youth in Maricopa County:


Tutor/Mentor Program: assigning a tutor/mentor to work with a child for at least 2 hours per week for one year to improve their educational and social outcomes.


Dance Program: offering classes throughout the valley teaching youths salsa, bollywood, jazz, hip hop and many other dances.


Cooking and Nutrition Program: offering lessons in preparing fun and nutritional food on a budget.


Justice League Program: offering monthly programs on aging out of foster care and learning about your rights and responsibilities under law as a foster youth.


Aging Out and Financial Literacy Program: offering practical and useful classes in all aspects of aging out.


For more information, please contact: Annie Ansell at 602-252-2270 or [email protected].

New Arizona Child Welfare Report Available

A recent report by the Children's Advocacy Institute of the University of San Diego School of Law, in collaboration with First Star, discusses how the federal government is failing to properly enact, monitor, interpret, and enforce federal child welfare laws - and in so doing is allowing states to fall below minimum floors with regard to appropriately detecting and protecting children from child abuse and neglect and complying with minimum federal child welfare requirements and outcomes.   

Click here for the findings regarding the protection of abused and neglected children in Arizona, including links to the Child and Family Services Review reports from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, information on relevant judicial proceedings, and recent news articles.
Additional Awards Available for Foster Children

The Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF) is still accepting applications to provide social, athletic,and educational activities for children in foster care.  

AFFCF provides foster youth with tutoring, soccer, music lessons, dance, swimming, field trips, class photos, bicycles, and more.  Call 602-252-9445 or visit to apply for an award or to get award applications for families you know!
Department of Child Safety (DCS) Resource Link

The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) has developed a new resource page on their website to answer questions and provide information regarding DCS frequently asked questions. Click here to access the page.
Resource Reminder: "CASA in the News"


"CASA/GAL in the News" is a weekly digest of news relating to the CASA/GAL network. National CASA has contracted with Meltwater, a service that monitors more than 190,000 news publications, along with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and blogs, to create this service. 


The National CASA Communications Department compiles the highlights into a weekly e-news digest for program staff, volunteers and others interested in staying informed about happenings in the CASA/GAL network and national issues relating to foster care.

For more information, a link to subscribe, and tips for utilizing this new service, visit the info page.

Photo Gallery

On December 5th and 6th, CASA advocates Mary O'Day and Karyn Luke manned the CASA table at the Arizona Summit on Volunteerism and Service Learning! 
On January 10th, CASA of Yuma County staff and volunteers hosted an information table at Military Appreciation Day in Yuma.
On January 27th, the state CASA Marketing and Outreach Specialist attended "Touchdown for Tenderness". This event, hosted by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, initiated conversations on how to engage men in these important efforts. 
CASA of Arizona | 602-452-3683 | [email protected] |
1501 W. Washington Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Issue 14 | Spring 2015

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In This Issue

  • Free Dbacks Game for CASA Advocates!
  • New Video Featuring Pima County Family Drug Court
  • CODY Now Offered in Yavapai County
  • Mark Your Calendars
  • Free Programs for Foster Youth
  • New Child Welfare Report
  • Recent CASA Media Coverage

In Case You Missed It
You Can Check Out Recent CASA Media Coverage Here!

Report Child Abuse
Child Abuse Hotline
YOU may be a child's only advocate at the time you report the possibility of abuse or neglect.

If a child tells you of such experiences, or if you suspect abuse or neglect, act to protect that child by calling the toll free Arizona Child Abuse Hotline at:


More info on the reporting process can be found here.
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