SFCASA's Quarterly Newsletter
Letter from Sally
Dear Friends of SFCASA,
Commissioner William Gargano, Former Dependency Court Commissioner, remarked, “CASA volunteers are a special gift to the courts. They enable a judicial officer to know what a child needs—whether it is emotional, physical, medical, mental, or spiritual support. And they inspire us to meet those needs in a creative and caring fashion.”
SFCASA fills a large gap in service caused by an overstressed and underfunded system by training and supervising community members to serve as personal advocates for foster youth. We are always looking forward for more effective and efficient ways of providing this service.
In the fall of 2012 the board of directors of SFCASA will begin a strategic planning process to create a 2 year strategic plan that will allow for growth of our services to not only more foster youth, but growth in our programs so that we reach foster youth in different ways.
We are pleased to currently have a Taproot Foundation in service grant where we are examining the issues facing foster care generally and SFCASA specifically. Beyond that we have a pro bono extern working with our program staff and CASA agencies throughout the US to review and assess other CASA service models and see if there are programs we might emulate here in San Francisco. As services are squeezed due to government cut-backs it becomes more and more important for us at SFCASA to be diligent in finding creative ways to reach out and serve this vulnerable population.
We appreciate your belief in our work and your unswerving support. We will be reporting out to our donors and community partners as we define our strategic plans over the coming year.
Sally Hamlin Coates
Fostering Change—The Power of One
The 12th annual fundraising luncheon to support the San Francisco CASA Program
May 16, 2012
11:30am – 1:30pm
San Francisco Four Seasons Hotel
This year’s Luncheon theme is Fostering Change, The Power of One. One CASA has the power to change the life of a child forever. One program can make it possible for hundreds to have a second chance at a safe, nurturing life; one story can inspire dozens to take action; and one donation can help to fund the chance for one-on-one advocacy and mentoring for some of the most disenfranchised children and youth in our community. Fostering Change, The Power of One touches so many.
We will honor former presiding judge of San Francisco Superior Court, the Honorable Donna Hitchens, for her 20 years of outstanding service to the children and youth of San Francisco. The Luncheon will also feature Jan Yanahiro, beloved community TV host, as MC.
Our goal is to raise over $150,000, which will provide educational programs and community services focused on increasing the number of CASAs in the county of San Francisco. Each time the number of CASAs grow, more children’s lives are changed. We can do it with your support.
SFCASA is now seeking event sponsors and table captains for this prestigious event. To learn more, go to the website (http://www.sfcasa.org/wp/event/) or contact the Development team at 415.399.6130.Seating is limited this year, so don’t hesitate to sign up now!
We extend special appreciation to Charles Schwab & Company for becoming a Program Supporter!
- In addition to our Core Advocacy Program in fiscal year 2012, SFCASA is expanding our volunteer advocacy services to meet the needs of non-minor dependents who may now, through the passage of Assembly Bill 12, continue receiving foster care benefits through age 21. As part of our Pre-Emancipation Program, SFCASA staff and volunteer advocates will be prepared to implement the changes and ensure that foster youth who qualify for services are receiving them. By doing this, SFCASA and its volunteers strive to prevent this at-risk population from dropping out of school, entering the juvenile justice system or becoming homeless. Some of the new responsibilities we anticipate our Case Supervisors and volunteer advocates assuming include monitoring the youth’s schooling to ensure they graduate high school, researching job training and post-secondary education opportunities of interest to the youth, teaching him/her basic tasks such as opening a bank account, getting healthcare coverage, applying for food stamps, and establishing a Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) to move them towards living on their own.
- As SFCASA’s Infant and Toddler specialist, Todd Lloyd is, in addition to managing his caseload, participating in ZERO TO THREE’s Court Teams project for children in foster care. According to the Zero to Three Court’s Impact Statement, “the model is based on judicial leadership partnered with child development expertise to increase awareness of the impact of abuse and neglect on very young children and change systems to improve outcomes and prevent future court involvement.” The Court Team Project in San Francisco is one of 11 nationwide beta sites to improve outcomes for very young children in foster care. SFCASA’s participation in this project is one example of our commitment to systems improvement and our dedication to not only increasing awareness of the issues related to child abuse, neglect, and foster care, but our work to improve the outcomes for these children, not only on an individual basis, but through our reach into the community that we serve.
- Educational Advocacy Program, which takes a multi-prong approach to improving academic achievement among foster youth is working to grow the number of Education Surrogates by 20%. Under the Educational Advocacy Coordinator, Jeff Perry, the Program trains volunteers to serve as Educational Surrogates with the power to make decisions concerning a foster youth’s schooling. Through a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District and as a member of the Fostering Youth Services Steering Committee, SFCASA also addresses policy changes and service delivery improvements.
A Volunteer’s Voice: Priscilla
My role as a CASA has been a challenging yet inspiring opportunity. I met my CASA youth when he turned 7 years old. It didn’t take much to start engaging with him thanks to other CASAs who advised keeping art supplies on hand. Worked like a charm!
My CASA youth had a supportive environment in place. A stable foster home, comforting foster family, local Boys and Girls Club, siblings, and a therapist were all included in the picture. However, I felt it was important to monitor his environment and to help keep the supports in place. There was one instance when my CASA youth reported information to me about mom’s workplace. I validated his concerns and offered to accompany him on his next visit. As it turned out, the location of mom’s workplace was not a suitable environment for a child to hang around in. This moment reassured me that not only do the voices of our youth really matter, but the situations our youth are exposed to can have a negative effect.
As CASAs we help them carry some of the brunt of their pain. This is one challenging aspect of our role as a consistent, trusting, and genuine presence in their life. And the inspiration in this work? To see these children stand before us with the strength to carry their experiences. What motivates me to continue working with my CASA youth is feeding his liveliness. Providing him with opportunities to try new activities has helped him explore his strengths and interests. My CASA youth and I have spent time at the Academy of Sciences, the zoo, the aquarium, played tag at the playground, kicked around a soccer ball, went to see the Giants play, hit the batting cages, just to name a few! The amazing thing is he takes an active part in what he wants to see next, play next, or learn next.
Volunteering as a CASA has further inspired my pursuit towards the social work field. This experience has broadened my view of the world our foster youth must navigate through. Foster youth need a supportive environment set in place to account for the chaos in their world. There also needs to be advocacy around connecting them to appropriate resources and activities that will serve as constructive coping outlets and to help them manage their stress. By continuing my work in the community, I hope to bring a voice to the need for services that would help nurture the growth of our youth.
SFCASA welcomes back Program Director Erika Dirksefrom maternity leave!
Erika assumed the role of SFCASA’s Program Director on July 25, 2011. Prior to this appointment, Erika served SFCASA for over three years in a Case Supervisor role and as a volunteer advocate for close to seven years. As a Case Supervisor, Erika specialized in serving adolescent, transitional-age and LGBTQQ youth. Erika has contributed to the creation of a resource guide to assist bench officers in their work to meet the specific needs of LGBTQQ foster youth in California, has developed partnerships with community organizations such as San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Project, One Family and Transitional Youth Services at San Francisco Community Behavioral Health Services, and looks forward to advancing SFCASA services to pre-emancipation and emancipation aged youth as the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12) takes shape to extend transitional support to foster youth up to age 21.
Cynthia Griffin is SFCASA’s new Director of Development.
As a volunteer, Cynthia was a CASA for 13 years with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley and as such has developed a deep commitment to our vision that every child has a safe, loving home and is given the opportunity to thrive. She servedas WalkAmerica Director for the South Bay March of Dimes, Sr. Development Manager with the YWCA of Silicon Valley and Director of Resource Development with Next Door, Solutions to Domestic Violence in San Jose. In addition, Cynthia has over fifteen years of sales, strategic marketing, graphic design, and communications experience. She is a credentialed teacher and taught in the public school system for over seven years.
Lisa Endo recently joined SFCASA as Development Coordinator and will be involved in grant writing and other fundraising duties. Lisa has a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from The New School in New York. She is new to San Francisco and consistently baffled by the weather here, yet the city is growing on her.
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