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Here is an update on what CASA has been up to in the first quarter of our new fiscal year (FY 21-22).

For the past two and a half years, Torrey and Mark have devoted their attention and time to two siblings and the adults in their lives—parents, extended family caregivers—to advocate for a safe, stable, and nurturing home. They stayed by the children, being a constant, stable presence in their lives as they went through family transitions as well as the pandemic. 

Hispanic Heritage Month happens every year between September 15th and October 15th. This month is dedicated to the Hispanic culture and the nations that share that culture.

Mitch has been a volunteer Advocate with CASA of Santa Cruz County for 4 years and counting. A former teacher and school administrator, his love for kids has driven his involvement in helping out foster youth. During his time as a volunteer, Mitch has had the opportunity to work with 3 teens so far.

We are so happy to celebrate the adoption of two sisters, now 5 and 7 years old, who were in the court system for 3 long years. Volunteer Advocate Rebecca T was instrumental in helping the girls with their three-year time in the dependency court system.

Thank you for your continued support! I hope you enjoy the following quarterly update of CASA of Santa Cruz’s activities as we wrapped up our last fiscal year. 

After some time attempting to find the perfect CASA for Sean, Eric was matched with him and became the perfect fit.  Eric’s dedication to Sean, as well as his commitment to provide support to Sean’s mom, helped Sean to settle into being a successful reunification with his mom

June is National Reunification Month—a time to reflect on family strengths that lead to successful reunifications. In honor of the month, CASA of Santa Cruz is celebrating families, volunteers, and service providers who work hard to reunite separated families. Reunified families are a true inspiration, because they have overcome tremendous difficulties and are now equipped with tools to address future challenges. We are happy to share the following story about Sean, reunited with his mom this year, and celebrate their success. 

Please join us in celebrating M Pacheco (pronouns Ella, They, Them), an amazing young Latinx whose resilience, accomplishments, and optimism is extraordinary. M entered foster care at age 10 and remained in the system until they turned 18. M went on to accomplish some amazing things, including recently earning their Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, where they had three graduations -one for their entire program, one for Latinx graduates, and one for the LGBTQIA+ graduates, the Lavender Graduation. We are thrilled to celebrate M’s accomplishments.

On May 27th, 2021, the Hon. Timothy Schmal swore in 13 community members as Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care. This was upon their completion of the CASA 35-hour training program.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month. This story is about two siblings who spent a few years in foster care and were recently adopted by their second foster family. Their CASA, Joani, was there every step of the way.

The California Department of Education is pleased to announce the following webinars: 

We are saddened to share we have lost Dr. Janet Bell after 99 incredible years of a wonderful life. Dr. Bell is a Board Member Emeritus for CASA of Santa Cruz County.

40 minutes before the Dereck Chauvin guilty verdict was announced, Ma’khia Bryant, a Black 16-year-old girl in foster care, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ohio. She was involved in a fight at her group home and the police were called. Foster youth, who have been abused and severely neglected in their childhoods, sometimes express their trauma in ways that make others feel uncomfortable and unsafe. The act of calling the police in these moments leads to the criminalization of these children across our country. 

Thank you for your continued support! I hope you enjoy the following update of CASA of Santa Cruz’s activities during the first quarter of the calendar year.

CASA of Santa Cruz has been in the news lately! Come check out these links!

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each year, over 650,000 children are determined to have experienced abuse or neglect, ushering many of them into the dependency court and foster care systems.

CASA of Santa Cruz county stands with Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and all people of color against intimidation, violence, and hatred.

Congratulations to CASA of Santa Cruz's Alma Rocha for being selected for the KCBA Fox35 High Five Award for community service!  Alma has been an Advocate Supervisor at CASA for over 10 years and is also our education liaison.  Please watch the full story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA27szunoWQ&feature=youtu.be

We are so grateful to have Alma on our team, helping the youth of Santa Cruz county succeed in their schooling and beyond!

Last year we began our Juvenile Justice Pilot Project. A year later, we have an update.

CASA is thrilled to have received a donation of over 1200 masks from ClearMask to support our infants and toddlers in foster care. These masks will be going directly to support visits between our youngest children and their parents, as well as  CASA Advocates as they continue to show up for the children in our community.

We recognize the importance of ClearMasks in supporting early infant mental health through supporting attachment, relationships, and communication. We will continue to address the unique needs of infants and toddlers in the work that we do serving children in foster care, and spreading the word about infant mental health.

Yesterday we met with Congressman Panetta to share with him our concerns about children. Read on for more!

We care about the health of farmworkers in Santa Cruz County. Their health and safety directly affects the health and safety of their children, and thus it is the concern of the entire community that farmworkers are adequately protected from COVID-19. To that end, we, along with other organizations in the community, sent this letter to the Board of Supervisors ahead of their January 12th meeting.

The many challenges brought on by the pandemic are impacting local foster children and foster caregivers at an alarming rate. COVID-19 cases in our community have reached an all-time high and our children in foster care urgently need help. Unfortunately, we have an immediate need to find local families able to provide short and long term care to foster children who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19.  

We are excited to announce that our new Annual Impact Report is ready! Come check it out!

With just a few hours a week, you can make a difference for a child in foster care. Join us for an online information.

We have collected a large number of resources to help our Advocates and our broader group of supporters. Check them out!

CASA of Santa Cruz invites proposals from qualified applicants interested in entering into a contract to perform consulting and training services related to organizational equity, diversity and inclusion transformation. We are seeking services that will help members of our staff and board build skills and competencies as CASA strives to operationalize diversity, equity and inclusion.

Santa Cruz Local has put together a list of resources that are super helpful in this time. Check it out!

Debra Jones was a great Advocate. She understood the issues of trauma well, and her connection to higher education was a huge benefit for youth to get out of the cycle of poverty as well as move beyond the life of living in foster care. She was informed about the challenges for a child living in foster care and the many adults involved with making decisions of the youth. She was great at reminding everyone to stay focused on the child's needs. She served four youth over a seven-year period, and most of her time was spent helping two sisters that are now young adults today.

You can help retain & increase VOCA funding to CASA/GAL programs across the country who serve children who have experienced abuse. Please take a few minutes to contact your Senators now and ask for their support of the VOCA Fix Act of 2020.

CASA of Santa Cruz will have the most youth turning 21 this year than we ever had. The issue of housing upon “aging-out” is a challenge for several of them. CASA is working with various housing programs locally to determine how we can support our youth beyond their time in the foster care system.

You can help raise awareness about the need for more volunteers to support local children by displaying a CASA yard sign in your neighborhood.
Signs will be available for no-contact pick up.
Reserve your signs at casaofsantacruz.org/lawnsign.

We are now releasing quarterly updates, so here is the update for the 4th Quarter of 2019-2020. Enjoy!

Brian and Trevor are two brothers who are 9 and 12 years old. 
Both were neglected due to their parents’ drug use, and while their parents are doing their part to address their substance issue, it is our part as a community to be there for Brian and Trevor during this difficult time. 

CASA of Santa Cruz's Program Director, Jimmy Cook, updates our fellow advocates on what the advocate's role continues to look like during COVID-19 and Shelter in Place/Social Distancing orders.

We appreciate our Advocates so much that we can't contain it to just one week! Even though National Volunteer Week is over we wanted to put another video out for you all to know how much we love you all.

For National Volunteer Week, we wanted to show how much we appreciate our volunteers. And to do that, we spent an entire morning recording these messages for all of you. You may have seen some of them on social media during National Volunteer Week, but here are all of them for you to enjoy!

Lynne Petrovic, our Executive Director, wants to let you know that CASA of Santa Cruz is doing exactly what it's always done and exactly what we love doing- advocating for children. It's going to take a lot more than a shelter in place order to slow us down from doing that.

Sign up for an online Volunteer Information Meeting to learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate today.

Most importantly, we are going to get through this together.
CASA, with your support, will continue to vigorously advocate for children in whatever way needed.

If you are an Advocate looking for resources relating to COVID-19, please visit our Community Wellness Resources page linked above. More information will be added throughout the week.

We treasure the opportunities that we have to see you and have fun with you and as such we truly regret not being able to participate in these two fundraisers.  But we also trust that our caring and supportive community will come together in other ways to support each other through these current times no matter what comes our way due to COVID-19.  

Our CASA team wants you to know that we are actively following the CDC and local guidelines and recommendations regarding maintaining our healthy environment at the CASA House.  We are also planning for the future so that we are able to implement any additional guidelines and recommendations that may be made in the future. As we monitor the recommendations, we will keep you updated on any guidelines that may impact our office.  As always, our primary focus is the safety and wellbeing of the children, youth and the families that we serve.   

Every year in March we take time to appreciate our social workers. Read on for our full appreciation!

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