November 2019

We are feeling thankful for you! We are so grateful to be part of a community that helps our kids in so many ways. Looking for new ways to help over the holidays? We want to make it easy for you. Just click here for a list of opportunities and an easy way to sign up. Interested in a deeper dive? Join our book club. Other ideas? Please connect with us at .

Susan Conwell, JD
Executive Director
Native American Heritage Month
November is National Native American Indian Heritage Month ! Did you know this summer Joy Harjo was named the 23rd U.S. poet laureate? Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position – she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Read more about her and her poetry here .

Keep reading to discover how CASA volunteers can address historical trauma, check out a children's book and find out about an opportunity for Native youth to participate in a study about cultural resilience.
Historical Trauma
Imagine walking into a room and sitting down to hear a speaker. After a few minutes, somebody knocks on the door and asks that you and everyone in the room please gather your things and move to a different room because yours has been double booked. After this is repeated two more times, with each new room smaller than the last, you notice that your companions are noticeably disgruntled and demanding answers; some people are even outwardly angry at this point.

This is an exercise that Tania Cornelius, T ribal and Legislative Affairs Specialist for the Department of Children and Families, uses to show how relocation can cause stress, resentment, and a sense of hopelessness. It’s not a perfect analogy. But its a start and hopefully illustrates the impact of displacement.

Relocation and displacement is just one potential trauma that when experienced at a population level, can develop into historical trauma.

So, what is Historical Trauma?
Historical trauma is trauma experienced by a specific cultural, racial, or ethnic group because of major events or systems that were meant to oppress them. This initial trauma is passed down from generation to generation through attitudes and behaviors, often resulting from a profound loss of culture and instilling a widespread feeling of hopelessness in members of the community. Interested in learning more? Check out this guide from the University of Minnesota.

What does this mean for CASA volunteers?
Milwaukee County has the highest population of Native American children in the state. If you’re working with a Native American child keep in mind how valuable it is for children to stay connected to their culture, and for Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) standards to be met by the professionals working for the child. For more information on ICWA, visit our website and read Top 10 ICWA Myths .

How can you help a Native American child feel connected to their culture?
  • Make sure that the child has the opportunity and ability to attend cultural events important to their family and tribe. Make sure to follow up with the child about whether they attended and what would make attendance easier for them.
  • If possible, make sure that children can visit with members of their extended Native American family since family members can be the child’s gateway to their culture and history.
  • Advocate for the child in court: if a child does not have the resources to stay connected to their culture, bring it up in your recommendation to the court. You can recommend things like transportation to cultural events, visitation with Native American family members or mentors and enrollment in organizations like the Native American Youth Alliance.
  • Connect Native American youth to relevant resources such as
When We Were Alone
Unsure how to explain challenging moments in history to children? Sometimes there's a book for that! The Canadian book, When We Were Alone , addresses the history of residential/boarding schools for First Nations/Native American children.

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away.  When We Were Alone  is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.
Calling All Native Youth: Join the BRAVE Study
WeRNative wants to enroll 1,500 AI/AN teens and young adults in a study to evaluate a 7-episodes video series designed to improve mental health, while promoting cultural pride and resilience. Native youth (15-24 years old) across the U.S. are eligible to participate.

Eligible youth can join by texting: BRAVE to 97779

Youth who enroll will be randomized to receive either:
  • 8 weeks of BRAVE text messages, designed to improve mental health, help-seeking skills, and promote cultural pride and resilience, or
  • 8 weeks of STEM text messages, designed to elevate and re-affirm Native voices in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.

Afterwards, the two groups will switch and participants will receive the other set of messages.
We're Starting a Book Club!
Calling all CASA volunteers...former, current, interested but not yet sure volunteers, friends... We're excited to announce that we’ll be starting a book club! Meetings will be held every other month and will be facilitated by our AmeriCorps Member Jelena. This is a great chance for CASA volunteers to get to know one another while also earning continuing education credits. The reading list will include memoirs that will give a more personal look into the child welfare system, as well as more evidence-based reads that focus on trauma, resilience, and the difficulties that children in out-of-home care face on a more systemic level. This club will facilitate conversation about what kids really need and how you, as CASA volunteers, can help.

Interested participants should email by December 2nd for more information. Volunteers who commit to attending the first meeting in January will help select the first book. Books will be provided! We hope you can join us!
Congratulations CASA Volunteers!
Congrats to our newest Court Appointed Special Advocates! Judge Yang swore in 11 new CASA volunteers. These amazing volunteers will "Change a Child's Story" for foster youth in Milwaukee County. Thank you all for your commitment and welcome to your CASA journey!

Bottom Row (L to R): Rebecca, Diane, Emily, and Barbara
Top Row (L to R): Tuyet, Ricca, Danielle, Judge Yang, Patricia, Heidi, Chamuela, and Jelena

Interested in volunteering or have a friend to recommend as a CASA volunteer? Email today! Our next training starts in January-- click here for dates.
Trainings in the Community-
CASA Continuing Education Opportunities
Youth Sex Trafficking and Trauma Informed Services in Behavioral Health Settings

Dates: Thursday, December 12 OR Friday, December 13
Time: 8:30am-4:00pm (lunch provided)
Location: Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services, 635 N 26th St, Milwaukee, WI

To register sign up here and then notify for CEU credits. Please register by Monday, December 2.

This FREE training provides a foundation for understanding the prevalence and impact of sex trafficking in Wisconsin and builds on the work of the WI Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force and the short web-based training provided through the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System. Through this training mental health professionals will increase their understanding of indicators of trafficking and acquire skills to promote healing and recovery. Participants will take home practical skills for detecting signs of sex trafficking, understanding how trauma impacts brain development and the tools to help youth who have experienced sex trafficking. Equipped with this knowledge, professionals who work with youth are in a strong position to use strategies to support growth and well-being in lives of young people to help them thrive. This training is intended to be interactive with participants; utilizing videos, group activities, case examples and dialogue/discussion. The intended audience is individuals who work with youth in mental health/behavioral health services.
From Foster Youth to Judge
Be inspired by this 9 minute interview (starts at minute 30:45) of Multnomah County, Oregon Judge Xiomara Torres! Hear about her journey from being a foster youth to going to college, law school, working with kids, becoming a judge, and all the people along the way who make a difference. You guessed it--Judge Torres had a CASA volunteer by her side.
"I was inventing it all on my own but I had someone who is here today. She is my CASA."
Thanks Kohl's Volunteers!
"Hope needs a helping hand" -- and you can find it here with our volunteers! Thanks to the team from  Kohl's  -- we have a new way for our many volunteers and visitors to leave their handprints on our hearts. Making thank you cards and carnival game signs, as well as painting and varnishing were fun and easy tasks for this AWESOME team of skilled project managers.
Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week: Nov. 16-24
Remember our friend and CASA volunteer Nancy Osterhaus and how she helps foster youth grow and heal through riding horses? Each November, Nancy also drives a hearse around Madison's Capitol Building in honor of the homeless people who died over the last year. Thank you to everyone raising awareness and taking action on issues that matter to you!
ICYMI: Check out the last newsletter featuring Kids Matter CASA volunteer Kalie!