FALL 2016
In This Issue
Board of Directors

James Hatter
Chair
San Francisco, CA

Shelley Brown
Vice Chair
Los Altos, CA

Jan-Yu Weng
Secretary
Santa Clara, CA

Malcolm Goepfert, CFA
Treasurer
San Francisco, CA

Katy Carlsen, MD
Granite Bay, CA

Dilys Tosteson Garcia
Monterey Park, CA

Kevin Gardner
Palo Alto, CA

Johnny Madrid *
New York, NY

J. Michael Hughes, Esq.
Orange, CA

Sharon Lawrence, Esq.
San Diego, CA

Elisa Mendel
Oakland, CA

Clark Menefee, MBA
San Jose, CA

Kim Moore
San Francisco, CA

Tony Papa
Santa Barbara, CA

S. Keating Rhoads
Mountain View, CA

Karen Schaefer
Redding, CA

Robert Smith
Hermosa Beach, CA

Adam Wallace, CPA
Torrance, CA

*Denotes member
on leave
 
Ways to Give
Your individual gift provides us with the resources to continue our work strengthening the CASA movement throughout California. Donate Today!

Volunteer Resources
We've compiled some
useful resources to
help CASAs advocate
for their youth. Take a look at our 
Volunteer Resource section!
 
Become a Volunteer
Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers and ordinary citizens, like you, doing extra-ordinary work. Are you eager to make a difference in a child's life? Learn how you can  Become a CASA Volunteer.
  
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With the arrival of fall comes exciting news from California CASA Association! In addition to John Lipp joining our community as California CASA's new CEO, Governor Brown signed into law just last week a bill sponsored by California CASA that will save our programs an estimated $80,000 annually. Also in this issue, we profile a young CASA in Riverside County, meet new Board members and a seasoned ED, and share updated resources and new opportunities for our network. Please share our e-newsletter with your family, friends, and colleagues to encourage them to become a CASA volunteer and/or make a gift that supports our collective mission of providing foster children and youth with the caring support of a CASA volunteer.
 
California CASA CEO Transition
California CASA Welcomes New CEO

California CASA is pleased to announce that John L. Lipp has joined the organization as its new Chief Executive Officer, and began his tenure on
August 1, 2016. 
 

A lifelong advocate for programs and social policies that protect our most vulnerable citizens, Lipp is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader
with extensive experience in fundraising, community engagement, governance, and program development. He has worked with a variety of organizations during his career and has served as a trainer and keynote speaker for local, national, and international audiences.
 
Remarking on his new position, Lipp said, "It is an honor to serve as the next CEO for the California CASA Association and to join hands with the thousands of Californians who work tirelessly as both volunteers and staff to advocate for the rights of abused and neglected children and youth. This is an incredible network of people who inspire with their compassion, selflessness, and commitment to the vision that one day a CASA volunteer will serve every child who needs one. California CASA is uniquely positioned to make that vision a reality and I'm thrilled for the opportunity to be
a part of this life-changing organization."
 
Lipp served as a member of the faculty for San Jose State University's Continuing Education Program in Nonprofit Management for over 10 years and was also an instructor for CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in San Francisco. He was President/CEO of Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) in San Francisco from
2004-2011 and more recently served as Executive Director of the Greater Bay Area Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) before joining their national leadership team from 2012-2015 as the National Director/Associate Vice President, Volunteer Engagement. His book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recruiting and Managing Volunteers, was published in October 2009 by Alpha/Penguin. In 2015, he was a featured contributor to the anthology Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World from Jossey-Bass. Some in the network might remember John's keynote at the 2010 National CASA Conference in Chicago. John lives in Alameda and has been a Bay Area resident for 23 years.

Our Sincere Thanks to Mim Carlson, Interim Executive
Director of California CASA

 
In addition to the kind of competence that only comes from many years of leadership in the nonprofit sector, Mim brought a sense of calm strength with her that went a long way to allay any anxiety that staff or funders might have had during our recent leadership transition. With her at the helm, it was easy to believe that all would be okay - and, indeed, with her confident guidance, extensive knowledge of non-profit management, and her ability to empower staff to do their best work, California CASA stayed on track and accomplished a number of significant milestones in April through July, 2016.
CASA Volunteer Spotlight
Emily Vizcarra, Riverside County

CASA volunteer Emily Vizcarra was just 21 when she became an advocate with Voices for Children's CASA program in Riverside County, and was among the first volunteers graduated after Voices for Children of San Diego County decided to help rebuild their neighboring county's program. In fact, Emily was so eager to learn about becoming a CASA that she attended an information session in San Diego, later attending CASA training in Riverside.
 
Emily was motivated to volunteer because she felt she'd been very fortunate in life: she had a loving family, happy upbringing in Lake Elsinore, and was able to attend college on a full-ride softball scholarship. "I wanted to give back and I wanted to help somebody," said Emily, who recently graduated from Cal State Fullerton. That "somebody" was Violet, a five-year-old with no known family besides her abusive parents. After Emily was matched with Violet, she would visit the little girl weekly at her foster placement. They played games, colored together, and went to the park, while Emily worked behind-the-scenes with Violet's social worker and foster family to ensure her needs were met. Then, some months later, it was discovered that Violet had an aunt in Texas, and it was decided that it would be in Violet's best interest for her to be with family. She and Emily had a tearful, bittersweet goodbye. "She's so sweet and smart, and will soon be officially adopted by her aunt." Until the adoption is finalized, Emily is still Violet's CASA, and plans to take on another case.
 
 

Meet Our New Board Members
New California CASA Board Members Bring Unique Perspectives

A pediatrician, former foster youth, and corporate executive have joined the California CASA Board in 2015 and 2016, adding to the diverse mix of professionals and community leaders governing our organization. We welcome them, and thank them for partnering with us to improve the lives of foster children in our state.
 
As a pediatrician, Kathryn "Katy" Carlsen has served foster youth and marginalized children for many years. By joining the California CASA Board of Directors, Katy's expertise will help us improve the medical outcomes and success rates for California's foster children. Dr. Carlsen spent the better part of a decade in her full-time pediatric practice before she realized that she wanted to do more to help children on a broader scale - particularly foster children. Her quest prompted her to leave Kaiser Permanente and accept a position as the medical consultant for California Children's Services in Placer County. She also became a volunteer assistant clinical professor with UC Davis Health System, training medical residents. Additionally, she has served as a board member and past president of the Ticket to Dream Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization that raises donations to benefit foster children. Carlsen shared, "I'm excited to serve as a board member of California CASA in order to help improve the lives of foster children and youth as only having a CASA can do." Katy Carlsen lives in Granite Bay with her husband Dale. The couple has two children, a freshman and senior in college.
 
Kim Moore knows foster care well, having been in dependency in Southern California for years before being adopted at age 16. She attended UC Irvine, and continued her studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Ms. Moore became acquainted with California CASA while researching mentoring models to help at-risk children. "CASA is a great organizational model that many researchers think very highly of in regards to what can impact a child's life. It's the human connection aspect and consistency of maintaining the relationship that can directly affect a child's way of thinking and development," she said, adding, "I feel that my experience can help California CASA achieve its mission. I have been in the shoes of the children we serve and, to this day, wish I had a role model when I was in foster care." Kim Moore currently works in venture capital, doing business development that supports Innovation Endeavors' portfolio companies. She is the founder of REACH, a mentoring program for teens and young adults in foster care, and is on the Board of Together We Rise. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Scott.
 
Tony Papa is the founder and CEO of Ciralta, Inc., as well as a principal of Tiro Partners, a private holding company through which he has provided advisory services to portfolio companies. Mr. Papa's background is in executive management, business development, corporate restructurings, mergers, and acquisitions, and over the past 25 years, he has launched 16 companies in various industries. Until September 2014, Mr. Papa was a director of the Bank of Santa Barbara and the chairm an of the bank's information technology committee. Tony serves on a variety of non-profit boards, including CASA of Santa Barbara County since 2009. "There are so many incredible benefits to the work we do," he said about his experience with CASA. "Initially, I was drawn to the impact our volunteer advocates have on the lives of abused and neglected children. I have taken pride in being part of the Santa Barbara CASA program and look forward to working with the California CASA Association Board to support our 44 programs across the state." Tony and his wife, Sabrina, live in Santa Barbara and have two adult children.
 
Measuring Outcomes

California CASA has been working with local
programs to build out CASA Tracker, and enable the collection and tracking of Youth Outcomes measures. Programs have identified several outcome areas where CASA volunteers anecdotally make a difference in the life of a child, and currently, CASA Tracker has been updated with a "Progress Measure Goals" tab that allows data to be entered, tracked, and success measured. Entering data into CASA Tracker in its current form "is not as fast or intuitive as we would like," said Phil Ladew, California CASA Associate and Legal Director. "CAS A Tracker is undergoing a significant revamp, so much of the work we have done will hopefully be available in the new iteration." Also, with funding from Northern California Kaiser Community Benefit, California CASA will work to develop another, easier method of collecting youth outcomes, namely a volunteer-completed Youth Outcomes Survey.    
 
National CASA created a Performance Measurement Committee, led by Dr. Andrew Schneider-Munoz, Deputy Chief Performance Measurement & Evaluation Officer Senior Fellow in late 2015. The committee is made up of staff from local and state CASA programs, and meets monthly to work towards the goal of developing national outcome measures. Karen Finan, California CASA Program Director, is representing the organization on this committee.
 
Recently, National CASA was awarded $1 million over three years from the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation to support implementation of its performance measurement system with the opportunity to produce a guide for Best Advocacy Practices in Child Welfare. Currently, the committee is reviewing a logic model for National CASA that will inform their work going forward.
Legislative and Policy Updates
Governor Brown Signs Bill Benefiting CASA Programs
 
On September 30, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2417, legislation authored by Assembly member Ken Cooley (District 8) and sponsored by the California CASA Association. Under existing law, CASA programs must pay the Department of Justice (DOJ) an administrative fee of $32 for performing state criminal background checks on their staff and volunteers. Additionally, existing law exempts qualifying nonprofits, child care facilities, and foster youth mentor organizations from paying any fee for this state criminal background check. This is because of a current policy intending to support mentorship and programs that support foster youth. By excluding CASA programs from this benefit, a financial burden is placed on local programs that effects their ability to grow their volunteer base and serve additional children in the foster care system, thus preventing us from better meeting this current policy. AB 2417 will amend Penal Code Section 11105.4 to remove current language excluding CASA programs from this exemption. Thus AB 2417 will remove a financial burden on local CASA programs-an estimated collective expense of over $80,000 annually - and allow them to utilize these funds to grow their volunteer base and serve additional children in the foster care system.
 
California CASA Launches Statewide Advisory Panel
 
California CASA is excited to announce the kickoff of the California CASA Advocacy Advisory Panel, or CCAAP, comprised of two representatives from each of the state's CASA programs. To date, 24 programs and 42 individuals are participating, and the programs they represent range greatly in terms of size and geographical location, providing an excellent opportunity to gather different perspectives and approaches to advocacy.
 
The CCAAP will leverage the programs' collective knowledge and experience, and allow California CASA to more formally gather feedback to inform and guide our legislative agenda. In addition, the CCAAP provides an opportunity for California CASA to increase programs' knowledge of the legislative policy process and learn how to engage with the legislative process to improve local advocacy.
 
The panel plans to conduct monthly conference calls. The legislative priorities conference call is tentatively set for October 31. If you're a local program who missed the deadline to nominate representatives to join CCAAP, it's not too late! Please contact California CASA's Policy Advocate, Marisa Shea, at mshea@californiacasa.org.
 
Executive Director Profile
Nathan Lee is very busy as the CASA program he leads, CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties, ramps up to serve more foster children.
 
With the assistance of a pass-through grant provided to this Central Valley program by California CASA Association with funding from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the program and its Board have developed a three-year growth plan, which has as its objectives volunteer recruitment, increased volunteer and employee retention, and Board development.
 
In the nine years that Lee has been at the helm, the program "has never had anything as forward-thinking" as the new growth plan. At its core is more outreach, and activities to raise awareness of the program's need for funding and volunteers. From seeking out public speaking opportunities to joining the local Chamber of Commerce and engaging a public relations firm, CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties is enjoying an upward trajectory. "Our Board, staff, and advocates are all passionate people and I'm sure that we will reach our goals in three years," remarked Lee, "we're seeing progress at every level of the organization." In fact, Madera County had its best-attended volunteer information session in August and is on its way to increasing its volunteer pool to 175.
 
When asked what advice he would have for a new leaders of CASA programs, Lee shared some words of wisdom: "The short route isn't necessarily the best. It takes time and significant effort to build a program. Be patient. Learning to do things more efficiently will lead to helping more kids."
 
CASA of Fresno County and Madera Counties
Staff: 12
Volunteers: 130
Children served: 250 children last fiscal year
Foster children in the two counties: 2,300
Annual Budget: $850,000
 
Central California CASA Leaders Meet
In September, leaders from 11 CASA programs in central California met to develop strategies to provide more of the 12,000 foster children in the region with CASA volunteers. Collectively, they currently serve nearly 2,000 foster children, and this collaboration will help close the gap. Their immediate goal is to increase the number of children served in central California by 1,000, thereby providing 25% of foster youth in the region with advocacy. The group has met annually for four years, and is grateful to the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, California CASA Association, and from Kaiser Permanente for supporting the 2016 gathering.
 
"CASA Toolbox" Valuable Tool for Programs
California CASA works to provide support to the state's 44 CASA programs, and one of the valuable resources is the comprehensive CASA Toolbox, available online for use by programs throughout the state. From training guides and exit questionnaires to education rights and legal resources for volunteers, the Toolbox is regularly updated and built upon by California CASA staff.
 
A popular feature within the Toolbox are the "CASA Conversations," generously supported by the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Judicial Council of California. CASA volunteers often navigate difficult conversations with their case youth, and the "CASA Conversations" serve as primers to begin discussions on subjects ranging from safely using social media, to money, sex, and grief. A unique element of the "CASA Conversations" is the involvement of young people from the California Youth Connection (CYC), who have lent their voices to this project, making this an even more valuable resource, influenced by the real-life experiences of foster youth.
 
 
Over the summer, we updated another tool that benefits from foster youths' real-world perspective: the AB-12 or Extended Foster Care training and manual. The materials address subjects such as how to get into (and stay in) college, how to receive ongoing financial support during this transition to adulthood, and the role CASA volunteers can have for their case youth while in Extended Foster Care. The updated training curriculum and manual is available at here .
 
Marilyn Barr Leaves Lasting Legacy in
Tulare County
Marilyn Barr recently retired after 20 years of exemplary service to CASA of Tulare County. Karen Finan, California CASA program director, has known Marilyn for 18 of those 20 years, and was pleased to attend her farewell party in Visalia last June. It seemed as if most of Tulare County had come out to thank Marilyn for all she has accomplished over the years. Police chiefs, judges, agency directors, and most importantly, CASA volunteers came out in force to let her know how much she meant
to them all, and to her community.
 
Karen Finan spoke to the group about the significant impacts Marilyn made in the statewide network of CASA programs during her tenure. Karen herself learned so much from Marilyn about child welfare, best CASA practice, and the successful running of a nonprofit. Marilyn was always willing to listen and support everyone in the California network, and was a key trainer in California CASA's Executive Director Boot Camp.
 
To know Marilyn is to love her, and she will be greatly missed. CASA in Tulare County, and CASA in California is stronger and healthier because of Marilyn's tireless work on behalf of children. Thank you, Marilyn!

California CASA Announces Psychotropic Medications Project
The California CASA Association is grateful to Kaiser Permanente for their continued support of CASA programs in both northern and southern California. Most recently, Kaiser Permanente Southern California awarded a grant to fund a new project focused on improving the physical, emotional, and mental health of foster children being treated with psychotropic medications. This work is especially timely, since the State just completed a Quality Improvement Project, led by California Department of Social Services, to improve the administration of psychotropic medication.
 
Additionally, last year, the legislature passed three bills (AB 238, SB 319, and SB 484) that affect the way psychotropic medication is administered to foster youth. Parts of those bills ensure that CASAs have the information necessary, as well as the opportunity to make recommendations to the court regarding youth's use of psychotropic medication. These new policies and laws need to be implemented, and CASA programs are uniquely positioned to advocate for the careful and thoughtful administration of these powerful drugs.
 
Project goals for Year 1 include gathering information about current needs and practices related to the administration of psychotropic medication; assembling experts across the legal, medical, and child welfare fields to evaluate the current resources and determine best practices related to the administration of psychotropic medication to foster youth; and publishing and disseminating a Best Practices to the CASA network. The project will benefit an estimated 5,600+ foster children and youth, ages 0-21, served by CASA programs of Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties. Of the 62,000+ children currently in foster care in California, 64% live in these eight counties.

Make a Gift of Hope
As a member of the CASA community, you know the impact volunteers have on foster children's lives. You also know that the California CASA Association supports the state's 44 CASA programs by providing specialized trainings so that they can better serve the needs of their case youth; developing and shepherding legislation to benefit foster children and CASA programs; engaging in marketing and outreach to raise awareness of programs and recruit more volunteers, and much more. Please make a tax-deductible gift to California CASA today so that we can continue to leverage the network and give more foster children the support they need and the advocacy they deserve. Visit our Ways to Give page for more information.
Mark Your Calendar!
Annual CASA Executive Directors Meeting and CASA ED Boot Camp in Sacramento, CA
  • CASA ED Boot Camp: Monday, January 9, 2017
  • CASA ED Meeting: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The first day of this two-day gathering is geared for those who have two years or less as the top CASA executive in their organization, and is open to all EDs and executive/program directors (for those under an umbrella); attendance at day one is optional for EDs with longer tenures. The second day is the annual meeting of EDs from across the state, and we are hoping for 100% attendance! There is no cost for either event, and California CASA plans on covering travel costs and one night of lodging, pending Judicial Council funding. More details to come soon!
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Lifting Hearts 2017
California CASA Association warmly invites you to an afternoon of music, delicious hors d' oeuvres, local wine and specialty beer, an outstanding auction - and CASA stories, of course!

Saturday, March 4, 2017 
4:00 - 7:30pm
Impact Hub
2323 Broadway 
Oakland, CA 94612

Visit the Lifting Hearts 2017 page for complete details.
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CASA at the Capital
California CASA is planning a day at the Capital in Spring 2017. CASA program staff, volunteers, and Board members will be invited to join California CASA in Sacramento to meet with our legislators to raise awareness about CASA and demonstrate the impact we're making in our communities. Stay tuned for details in the coming months.