Diane Nunn, Division Director of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, is to receive the First Annual Mark Hardin Award for Child Welfare Scholarship and Systems Change. The award will be presented to Nunn due to her work embodying “Mark’s leadership style, characterized by humility, a ‘willingness to serve,’ and a deep driving compassion for children and families.” As an attorney, she focused on family and criminal law and served as a juvenile court referee for the Superior Court of Los Angeles. According to Justice Richard Huffman, Chair of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, “Diane Nunn was a key architect of California’s legal framework for juvenile dependency practice, a tireless advocate for children, and a leader who has inspired literally hundreds of us in California and around the country.” Click here to learn more about Diane Nunn and the Mark Hardin Award.
Posts Tagged ‘Advocate’
Marsha Rosenbaum, author of three books about drug use and several scholarly articles, will be at CASA this week leading the SFCASA Continuing Ed class, “Talking with Teens about Drugs: A Harm Reduction Approach.” In addition to facilitating a conversation about educating teens about drugs, Marsha will also show a video of teens talking about drugs. Here is a link to her booklet, “Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs.”
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! As we spent more time together, I found myself full to the brim with compassion to hear what he has lived through. At the same time, I was thrilled to discover the strengths and interests he encompassed. I came in expecting to hear about the hardship and pain that our foster youth have been faced with. And what I am finding is that this experience has further impassioned me to continue this work.
My CASA youth had a supportive environment in place as mom was getting her plan together. 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 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 a result, we came together to advocate for a change that would improve the quality of his environment.
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. I believe that by listening to our youth and investing in their potentials, we are helping them find their own means to contribute in this world.