Welcome to Fall, with all its colorful changes, and our July-September 2023 Quarterly Update. It was so great to see so many of you at Imagine! on September 9 to celebrate our youth; and cheer on their strength and how, with a solid base, they have dreamed, branched, and grown. We were just so moved by all their achievements as they flourish into adulthood. Thanks to your support, we raised over $60,000 that day in ticket sales, auctions, and donations, helping us continue our mission to serve every foster youth and justice-involved youth in the community. Thank you for your continued willingness to invest in our youth and their growth.
This quarter gave rise to several changes at CASA as we continued to branch out and grow our services. With our team expanding, our juvenile justice program has built a strong foundation from which to flourish. We are now actively searching for volunteers to support these youth and meet their needs so that we may be able to serve every justice-involved youth in our community. Thank you for supporting our dream which is now becoming a reality.
We also formed a community council to give voice to the youth and families impacted by the foster care system. The team has met a few times and plans on meeting bi-weekly. Their insights and experiences will be used to assess whether there are gaps in services and for them to share ideas about how to make the system better. We embrace their collective wisdom to inform our decision making on where and how we should branch out in the future. This team is also being trained to become legislative advocates, to speak to our elective officials on changes needed in the system.
With all of the changes and growth, I was reminded of our strong roots and why we are so fortunate to have such a strong base from which to grow. The other day, a six-year-old foster child came to make cookies at the CASA house with his Advocate and was surprised to find his 13-year-old sister there waiting for him. They are currently residing in different resource homes, and it was so heartwarming to see them playing and reading books together in the CASA house living room. Seeing them enjoy their quiet time together made me appreciate the trusted and safe space we have created to strengthen family bonds.
This quarter, we welcomed four outstanding community members to our Board of Directors: Mark Stone, Aurora Lowe-Chubb, Richard Cooper, and Marita Villarreal. And sadly, we said goodbye to long-term board members Janis Ost, Matt Gianelli, and Chris Sheehy.
And now for some numbers from the quarter!
We served 136 children, 7 children of whom were newly assigned this quarter, waiting only a median of 32 days from referral to match.
· 40 were aged 0-5, 2.5% of whom were newly assigned.
· 26 were aged 6-11, 11.5% of whom were newly assigned.
· 57 were aged 12-18, 5% of whom were newly assigned.
· 13 were over 18 years old, 0% of whom were newly assigned.
· 46% of children served this quarter were Hispanic or Latino.
· 86% were in Dependency Care, 10% were in Juvenile Justice, and 4% were in both (dual status).
Be on the lookout for the Annual Impact Report coming out in November with last fiscal year’s financials as well as some great stories about the work we have been doing.
A few opportunities to support CASA’s roots and growth are coming up as we prepare for the end of the year giving. Please consider dining out at Erik’s Deli in Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, or Watsonville on November 3rd. 20% of all proceeds from those three store’s sales will go to CASA! Santa Cruz Gives kicks off November 15th and Giving Tuesday is Tuesday, November 28th! Thank you for considering CASA of Santa Cruz County for your end of year charitable donations. If you are 70½ years old or older, you can make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA to CASA of Santa Cruz County, instead of taking your required minimum distributions. As a result, you may avoid being pushed into a higher income tax bracket and prevent phaseouts of other tax deductions.
We thank you so much for your continued support of our community’s youth. We hope to see you soon.