To our dear supporters:
It is our pleasure to update you on how CASA fared during this eventful summer, the first quarter of our fiscal year.
First, we must recognize that this has been a difficult time for our community. During the fires many of our Advocates, staff, volunteers, families, and donors had to evacuate and we know of at least two who lost their homes. We are thankful for the efforts of firefighters and police officers who protected what they could and feel deep sadness for the losses they could not prevent. We hope that you and yours are safe and that your home made it through the fire.
Most remarkably, our community reached out. Without hesitation, and while many were themselves evacuated, they asked, “How can I help?” One person decided as soon as he returned home to make a large donation and committed to becoming a monthly donor.
We are proud to say, with the support of our generous community of donors, we had an incredibly successful Imagine! fundraising event on September 20th, 2020. Due to COVID-19 we held the event completely online, including a thirty minute wine social mixer, videos from former foster youth, and both silent and live auctions. We had expected to bring in about 50% of our previous year’s event revenue; however, due to the kindness of our supporters, we were able to raise 86% of our net revenue from last year and 103% of the previous year. Thank you to our sponsors and donors!
This quarter CASA hit a significant milestone: our list of children waiting for an Advocate is now down to the single digits. We have enough trained volunteers to find a good match for each child in the Santa Cruz County’s Dependency Court system within 30 days of receiving a referral. This has been a long time goal and the fact that we reached it is a reflection of our community. During a pandemic with fires raging, more people are stepping up to be Advocates than in previous years.
And, our CASAs have settled into new ways of staying in touch with their youths during the pandemic. One Advocate for a teen girl really wanted to celebrate her youth's birthday during COVID to maintain contact and show the youth how much the CASA cared. The Advocate contacted the youth to let her know she had a cake and gift to drop off. When the Advocate arrived, she knocked on the door, left the items on the porch, and the teen stepped outside. The teen opened her presents and the Advocate told her that she had one last surprise—a piñata filled with candy for her and her friends. A few months before this, the teen had mentioned that she had only had the opportunity to hit a piñata once. So the Advocate wanted her to have a piñata of her own. When the Advocate was leaving, the youth called out, “Thank you, I love you.”
As always, we are not satisfied with just helping our children and youth through the system. We want to make the system better. So, we are excited to be branching out to again collaborate with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education to improve our youths’ outcomes in school. We are targeting 3 areas that are known to directly impact our students—school enrollment process for out-of-district transfers, chronic absenteeism, and suspension rates—and will make concrete changes in these areas. We will then study the impacts before rolling these changes out to more schools. The group has been fortunate to receive funding from the MAIA Foundation to support our efforts.
And now for some numbers!
We served 158 children. 25 of whom were newly assigned, spending a median of only 16 days on the waitlist.
40 were aged 0-5, 10% of whom were newly assigned.
57 were aged 15-21, 19% of whom were newly assigned.
We have continued our online training and trained 17 new Advocates during the last quarter.
This has been a difficult quarter for our community, but for us at CASA, thanks to you and your support, we were able to continue to thrive, grow, and keep showing up for our youth. Thank you for making this possible.