CASA & Educational Advocacy
Foster youth are at greater risk, California youth in foster care are less likely than other students to complete high school, enroll in a community college, or persist in community college once enrolled. (Stuart Foundation, March 2013). Foster children, by definition, have experienced the trauma of being removed from their families as a result from experiencing other traumas such as neglect and/or abuse. Adding to the complex in the child welfare system, foster youth experience multiple home placements during their time in foster care. As stated in the Stuart Foundation article published March 2013: 69 percent had three or more home placements, 38 percent had been in more than five placements, and 31 percent had been in three to four. This influences students academic trajectory beginning as early as elementary school. Therefore, the most effective point to intervene to improve school outcomes for foster youth begins at entry to foster care. As stated in Foster Youth Transitions, by Center for Social Services Research and the Institute for Evidence-based Change, policy and practice recommendations are:
Focusing on School Advocacy, Court Appointed Advocates (CASA),review the childs school records and monitor the youth while in foster care to ensure the childs educational needs are being met. In addition to supporting the childs educational needs, CASA volunteers advocate for children to stay in school. The educational outcomes for foster youth include lower grades, more behavior problems, higher rates of suspension from school, lower high school graduation rates, and very low postsecondary school completion rates. The single most important factor in enabling youth to achieve success is educational achievement. How do we ensure that children in the care of the state receive the education they deserve? We work together through focused efforts and community collaborations; we can make great strides toward giving abused and neglected children an opportunity for a better life.
-Each new school year- take your order of appointment into the school and introduce yourself. -Do not show up to meet with the teacher unexpectedly; you should always make an appointment. -Remember teachers are busy with 20- 30 children in their classes, so dont expect an immediate response. -Give yourself plenty of time to collect school information needed for your CASA report.
CASA was awarded $16,840 from Coast Central Credit Union to support our Educational Advocacy.
Upcoming Events & Training Opportunities
November 6th-ICWA Local Tribal Representative
November 13th- BioSocial Cognition by Thomas C. Rector
240 Club- on-going
$20 per month
$100 Buy in, $5 Dealer Option
60 Flat screen TV,
4 nights in a cabin,
$400 gift card for Barron Furniture,
Del Norte Golf Package,
Casino Package, Concert tickets, Gambling money,
Fire Pit from Home Depot, auto detailing,
Sign up at Elk Valley Casino
Beth Liles, Chair
Patricia Jensen, Vice Chair
Nick Gonnella, Treasurer
Thomas C. Rector
Office Staff & Volunteers
Associate Executive Director
Admin Assist/Background Spec.
New Advocate Training
Our next advocate training is scheduled for late November. Please let your friends and families know the need for CASAs are great in our community.
We are also looking for volunteers to help with special events and/or projects.
We are currently serving 36 foster children, but there are 33 on the waitlist.
We are always seeking more volunteers, so please tell your friends about our organization and encourage them to give children a voice.
Creative Minds Summer
This summer project was an opportunity for foster children to explore their natural talents while continuing to work on reading, writing, and math. Children participated in planning, making journals, writing in journals, dancing, playing games, painting, drawing, coloring, and socializing with other children.
A special thank you to Erlinda Zapata. who led the program and donated her time and talent to the Advocates and children.
Supporting Agencies of the project were:
· Wild Rivers Community Foundation
· First 5 of Del Norte
· CAPC of Del Norte
· The Mail Room
· Each child received their very own art kit and journal making supplies.
· The children and their advocates planned when and where to meet.
· Most classes took place at the FRC.
· The children got to decide what they wanted to do in the class each day.
· The schedule was set to: two days a week, three hours per day- open to drop-i ns.
Not all the children were able to actively participate in the class, but all children received an art kit & journal.
This program was successful because it created fun opportunities for the children and their advocates to interact with each other, while providing educational opportunities, and boosting positive esteem. The children were excited to receive the art supplies and materials. Foster parents were also happy their children had fun activities to do for the summer. Ms. Zapata offered to make herself available to our CASA kids any time, allowing this program to continue.
Reports from Advocates
Over the summer, my CASA child and I were able to attend about 8 workshops for the Creative Minds Project that was spearheaded by the CASA program specifically for the Advocates and their appointed children to experience arts, crafts, games, dance and music. My CASA child is very artistic and was able to create many art pieces. She looked forward to each of the workshops and would ask CASA when the next one would be.
CASA took the girls to the Family Resource Center where we participated in the Creative Minds Project, which is an arena for CASA and the girls to participate in various art projects.
The opportunity to observe the children interacting with their peers and doing various creative tasks, provided insight to the childrens developmental progress, which ultimately supported recommendations made to the court.
My CASA child is 4 years old. He was able to play with toys, color, dance with the gymnastic ribbon, and he was able to play with the other children. It gave me, the CASA advocate, an opportunity to work with him on his colors and counting. He is below in math, so this opportunity helped him get caught up. It also helped him with social skills, while playing with other children. As an advocate I appreciated working with art work because thats one of my hobbies. I hope all children get that opportunity to explore art; it may develop into a lifelong hobby. Ms. Zapata was warm and loving and she seemed to really enjoy working with the children. I was really impressed with her.
Stuff the Bus
Thank you to Wal-Mart, who provided school supplies and back packs to CASA kids through the Stuff the Bus.
Wal-Mart participated in the Stuff the Bus this summer and the community donated over $6000 of school supplies to the Del Norte County School District. Back packs and school supplies were dropped off at the CASA office to give to CASA kids. CASA advocates were able to bring their CASA children to the office to shop (for free) in the store (created at the CASA office). Foster children were able to go to the CASA office and pick out their backpack and stuff it full of school supplies. The result of this experience was CASA staff and advocates notice a heightened excitement for school by the children. Foster parents expressed appreciation for the school supplies.
Positive Response Project (PRP)
In December of 2012, CASA of Del Norte was awarded $1,500 from Pacific Power to support our Positive Response training project. The Positive Response Project provides free community training by Thomas C. Rector, a national speaker on BioSocial Cognition. The Positive Response Project is a training program initiated by CASA as an intrinsic element to train volunteers and community team members who live or work in Del Norte County, to support and advocate for our children. Recognizing behavior in a child as a symptom, rather than reacting to the negative behavior itself, is paramount to a child achieving their potential. Our Positive Response Project (PRP) provides workshops for CASA advocates, foster parents, partnering agencies, and the community in general. The skills and knowledge gained from these trainings by the CASA advocates, enhances their facilitation of meetings with the professionals working with children who are under the jurisdiction of the court. Training CASA Advocates and community team members to consider a childs past history, their memories, and to investigate their environment to ascertain what the child is responding to enables positive outcomes that will build a childs self-esteem.
The BioSocial Cognition training is scheduled for November 13, from 3-5 pm, at Royal Human Service.
Safety Organized Practice (SOP)
What is Safety Organized Practice? All too often, children and families who became involved in Child Welfare Services were given case plans with a list of services that the family needed to complete in order for the agency to feel that the family had resolved problems that brought them to our attention. Many times, there was no input by the family nor was it spelled out what the agency wanted to see them doing differently to show that they can safely care for their children. Safety Organized Practice has changed the way Del Norte County Child Welfare works with families to mitigate safety. It offers strategies for creating constructive working partnerships between front-line child welfare social workers, the families they work with and community resources.
Safety Organized Practice uses the three objectives of engagement, critical thinking, and enhancing safety. Engagement with the child, family, the familys support network and service providers helps in creating a shared focus to guide the case work practice. Critical thinking assists the family and other concerned people to look at ambiguous case information and sort it into meaningful child welfare categories. Enhancing safety provides a path for the family, their support network and service providers to engage in creating well-formed goals that address the danger the agency (and often times the family) are worried about.
Safety Organized Practice is unique in that it combines best practice social work principles with the evidence-based Structured Decision Making (SDM) tools, and approaches families from a perspective where all involved are informed. Engaging families is critical in developing partnerships to co-create goals and plans that keep children safe at home with parents. An important part of engaging families is the use of Safety Mapping. Safety Mapping organizes all of the information known about the family into a meaningful structure of Danger (acts of risk by a caretaker), Safety (actions of protections by a caretaker demonstrated over time), Complicating Factors (things that are worrisome but in and of themselves, have little impact on the child), and Supporting Strengths (things that are going well for the family).
To help a family see why the agency is involved, a danger statement is crafted outlining what the agency is worried about that may harm or have a negative impact on the child. A danger statement is a simple, easily understood, statement with factual behavioral details that outline the agencys worries about future danger to the children. When the family understands why the agency is worried, it can have a powerful effect as often times, the family is worried about the same problems. Safety Organized Practice provides a process so that all voices are heard, including the voice of the child.
Along with safety mapping, Safety Organized Practice entails family meetings. The family is encouraged to invite their friends and family to the table in order for the family to establish a network of supportive people who will assist the family in ensuring safety of the child long after the agency has stepped away.
Del Norte County Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Service has been implementing Safety Organized Practice for the past two and a half years. We continue to be excited about the transformation it is making in our practice. Safety Organized Practice informs the family, it gives all family members a voice, it brings in the families natural network of support and engages the family in planning for future safety of their children.
We currently contract with University of California, Davis, Northern Training Academy for continued support, coaching and on-going trainings. We meet monthly with our training coach, Chellie Gates, who travels to Del Norte County to provide hands on support to our staff. We will be scheduling Safety Organized Practice training in the near future and would like for all interested people who work with children and families to join us in learning more about Safety Organized Practice.