On Thursday, March 2nd CASA of San Mateo County hosted a panel of local medical practitioners to share their perspectives on the comprehensive health care needs of and services available to foster children in San Mateo County.
As part of our volunteer continuing education series, referred to as Monthly Networking Meetings, CASA of San Mateo County held this very special event where we invited our county foster parents to join CASA volunteers and CASA staff to learn directly from medical practitioners with considerable experience with children and families involved in the child welfare system. The panelists reviewed the age-specific preventative health care standards, touching on the early intervention and screening for delays that occur in the first five years and the well child checks that all children should be receiving. The panelists highlighted the role that CASA volunteers and foster parents can play as the "squeaky wheel" that can ensure our children get the basic check-up and health provider services that all children need. The night concluded with a question and answer session where attendees were able to get concrete guidance on how best to advocate for the medical needs of their assigned children. This two-hour session built upon CASA volunteers' 30-hour training and the professional support they receive on an on-call basis to provide the type of advocacy and support our program is known for.
Thank you to our panelists for sharing their wisdom with our volunteers and foster parents. CASA of San Mateo County is looking forward to continuing to enhance the healthy futures of our children.
(Pictured from left to right: Dr. Tricia Tayama, Medical Director, Keller Center for Family Violence Intervention; Dr. Janet Chaikind, Director of Pediatrc, San Mateo Medical Center; Dr. Harvey Kaplan, CASA of SMC Board Member; and Lori Sterling, Public Health Nurse, San Mateo County)
On February 1st, the Peninsula Health Care District awarded CASA of San Mateo County a $25,000 grant for our Healthy Futures Program and chose CASA volunteer Ricky Ono as the "Volunteer of the Year".
At CASA of San Mateo County we have always trained and supported our volunteers to respond to the unique needs of their assigned children. For some children this means signing them up for their first sports team, for others it means representing that child in a special education meeting, and for others a volunteer helps ensure a child's healthcare needs are met. Most recently, we have redoubled our commitment to making sure all of the children we represent have their regular medical and dental check ups while also supporting any specialized care a child may need in collaboration with caregivers and professionals. To formalize this effort, CASA of San Mateo County created the Healthy Futures Program, for which the Peninsula Healthcare District awarded us $25,000.
Prior to CASA creating a formal program to support this work, CASA volunteers, like Ricky Ono, have been stepping into the breech for their CASA children's healthcare needs for years because that's what our CASA volunteers do. A shining example of this, Ricky has been a CASA volunteer since 2008 and has worked with three young men. He is not only able to build trust through consistent visits with his youth, but he does the hard work of following up on their social-emotional, educational, and health needs, facilitating communication among the adult's in his youths' lives, and diligently reporting these to the Court, His combination of interpersonal and advocacy skills is special and allows him to be a particularly effective volunteer. If that wasn't enough, Ricky regularly helps us plan special events, most notably our Major Donor Appreciation Event. We feel extremely fortunate that he has committed to work with our kids and to make our program that much stronger.
We cannot thank the Peninsula Health Care District enough for recognizing Ricky's work and providing CASA with the funding necessary to build on our healthcare advocacy work.
Dear CASA Volunteers, I am sure you remember from training and from your own experience as a CASA Volunteer how a little of your time can have a great impact on the life of a foster child.
- 8 year old Justin told his CASA he was glad to be in foster care in Newark instead of his previous placement in Antioch. He said she wouldn’t have been his CASA if he was still in Antioch. She assured him she would be his CASA no matter where he lived.
- 17 year old Amanda spoke at her probation graduation and thanked her CASA for helping her believe in herself and not be afraid to suceed.
Please join us on Wednesday January 25 from 6 to 9 PM for a special event for trained volunteers. You will be able to connect with other volunteers and share training and case experiences over a light dinner. Program staff will be available to share the files and describe the needs of children and youth on our priority wait list. Our hope is that you will enjoy spending time with other volunteers and consider commiting to one of our children and youth -- leaving with a New Year's Resolution to make a difference in 2017!
If that day doesn't work for you, but you're interested in learning more about children who critically need a CASA Volunteer, please contact me at email@example.com or 650-517-5844.
Hope to see you at this very special event!
On January 18th, members of the San Mateo County Foster Youth Advisory Board (FYAB) and California Youth Connection (CYC) will be presenting at our monthly networking meeting.
Getting direct feedback from clients is critical to the success of any enterprise. The same applies to serving children and youth in foster care. Recognizing this, San Mateo County has helped develop a Foster Youth Advisory Board (FYAB). FYAB is composed entirely of former and current foster youth, who partner with the county's Department of Children and Family Services and provide feedback on county policies, services, and priorities. By participating in this advisory body, youth are educated about the complicated details of child welfare policy and services while having a direct say in how their services are delivered.
Of course, the FYAB would not exist without the tireless advocacy of the California Youth Connection (CYC), which is a chapter-based statewide youth organization that harnesses the energy and wisdom of current and former foster to transform the foster care system through legislative and policy change.
We are honored that these two critical voices of foster youth in our community will be speaking to our volunteers this month. We are looking forward to strengthening our connection with both groups.
The wonderfully generous community at the St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School made the holidays for CASA children that much more special once again. On December 11th, St. Matthew's held the 6th Annual Holiday Party for CASA Children and provided over 200 gifts for CASA children.
Leading up to the Holiday Party, the school invites CASA staff and a former foster youth to talk at a school-wide assembly about the foster care system and what it means to be a foster child. It's a tremendous learning opportunity for the St. Matthew's students, who leave the presentation with the understanding that some children have parents who at times in their lives aren't able to provide the basic security and care that every child needs. And it's an empowering experience for CASA's young adults, who are given an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges too many of our children and youth face.
The assembly provides the context for the students to understand why the Holiday Party and gift giving is so meaningful to CASA children. The party is organized by St. Matthew's parents and hosted at the school. Parents and students set up arts and crafts activity tables, provide home baked holiday goodies, and offer an opportunity to get a photo with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and an elf or two. This is a truly special event where the St. Matthew's and CASA community gather to share the holiday spirit.
St. Matthew's families also serve as secret Santas to our children and their siblings, by providing a majority of the over 200 gifts that CASA volunteers deliver to their children. Our volunteers have begun picking up these gifts this week and will be giving them to their children throughout the winter break.
This is a partnership that we cherish and look forward to maintaining throughout the years. Thank you St. Matthew's!
What do gingerbread houses have to do with student housing?! The San Mateo County Chapter of the California Youth Connection (CYC) is kicking off their Campaign for Student Housing by having a Holiday Event featuring a Gingerbread House building contest! Please join us this Monday December 19th, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the CASA office.
Join us by registering: http://bit.ly/2gGrHPw. and help us spread the word!
CYC is THE youth-led advocacy organization for foster youth in California. This organization harnesses the energy and wisdom of foster youth in our community and empowers them to advocate for change and become stronger citizens and adults in the process. CASA staff were the first adult supporters of CYC's San Mateo County Chapter, and we are honored to be sharing our space for this event. Housing is the biggest issue facing foster youth and providing affordable housing at our community colleges would be a major achievement for these young people. This is an event to support.
See you on Monday!
Congratulations to our newest members to CASA of San Mateo County. These 16 individuals are ready to embark on their new exciting journeys of empowering the life of a foster child. Because of these CASA graudates, we are able to take 16 foster youth off of the wait list. Thank you for your hard work and dedication through the training, and CASA of San Mateo County wishes you the best of luck on the next step of choosing a CASA child to serve.
CASA of the month
Our amazing CASA Volunteers make a huge difference in the lives of foster children every day. They inspire and motivate. They are role models and advocates. They connect one-on-one and they are the only consistent relationship a child has during such a rough time. But most importantly, our San Mateo County CASA’s listen to the child they are serving when no one else is listening.
Every month, we like to spotlight one of these amazing individuals as CASA of the Month. This month we are pleased to feature Kathy Rinette.
Like, comment, and share to help honor this fantastic CASA Volunteer as well as spread awareness of what being a CASA for a foster child really is like and how incredible the process is not only for the child, but for the CASA.
Introducing: Kathy Rinette
1. Why did you decide to become a CASA?
o I was deeply moved by the Lifetime movie America about a 17 year old boy in foster care. The credits included CASA volunteer information & that's what got me started seven years ago.
2. What motivates you to continue your journey as a CASA, or to keep you meeting with your child, or to pick another case?
o Knowing that a few hours a week can help a child and their families. Picking a case can be difficult as most are heartbreaking. With the help of my supervisor I was able to decide on girls where I had the most to offer.
3. How long have you been a CASA Volunteer and how many children have you served?
o I've been a CASA seven years & I've worked with three teenage girls.
4. What do you like best about volunteering with CASA?
o Being a CASA proves that one person can make a difference in a child's life.
5. What was your favorite memory or outing you experienced with your CASA child?
o I have two. A lot of businesses offer their services to CASA children. One of the girls learned how to horseback ride. It was very rewarding to watch a city kid learn how to groom & ride a horse. Google offered a Casa youth tour which allowed my CASA teenager to explore an exciting & innovative work environment
6. How has being a CASA Volunteer positively impacted your life?
o I have met so many wonderful caring people over the past seven years it's been an amazing experience from CASA staff & volunteers, probation officers, social workers, and of course the girls & their families.
7. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
o I owned a balloon business & was at Candlestick Park waiting to do a 50k World Series balloon release when the earthquake struck.
Our CASA volunteers make a commitment to work with children in the foster care system, serving as advocates and mentors. This is hard work that comes with inherent challenges. The primary challenge is how to build trust with children who have become distrustful of adults, children who have not always had reasons to trust that adults will come through for them.
That is why we at CASA of San Mateo County works hard to prepare and support our volunteers for the basic task of building trust with children who have experienced multiple traumas in their lives. Luckily, we tend to attract volunteers who have the emotional intelligence and relationship skills necessary to do this work well. While many, but not all, of the children we serve have processed their traumas in a way that has led to difficulty trusting adults, the blog post below, intended for educators, is a great reminder of why children from the most difficult backgrounds put up the greatest barriers to interpersonal connection. These two citations from the post are particularly good reminders:
The behavior of relationship-resistant youth is functional and purposeful. In other words, the young person is trying to accomplish something and the adult’s challenge is to detect what that might be (Anderson & Seita, 2005).
Problem behavior is often a means of coping with a world filled with danger, abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Seen in that light, problems can be a sign of health, energy, self-preservation, and self-determination. ( Seita, 2005)