April 2020

Child abuse increases in times of recession or crisis. Historically, opioid overdoses and deaths increase significantly for every one percent increase in unemployment. It was always hard to be a kid in a family struggling with violence or drugs. It is harder now, and more important than ever that we do all we can to keep children safe.
We are all needed! Bus drivers, mail carriers, delivery people, drug store cashiers -- teachers and school personnel who haven't heard from the kids they were watching out for before the coronavirus. In this upside down time, we need to recommit to keeping children safe. In Milwaukee, you can report child abuse at 414-220-SAFE.

It is an honor and a privilege to work with so many of the people Mr. Rogers would call "helpers." The people we all recognize in our communities who make things better. As CASA volunteer Sarah Matuszak says there is joy in helping, AND it can be uncomfortable and stressful.

In this challenging time, let's work together to prevent tragedy . It is important to offer the aid and stress relief we can to struggling families, and to continue to speak up and respond to children in crisis.

Susan Conwell, JD
Executive Director

P.S. April 22 is Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Awareness Day. DEC children are exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero and/or live in or are exposed to an environment where drugs are present for any number of reasons, including trafficking and manufacturing of drugs. At the end of this newsletter, we include trainings on how you can help drug endangered children. Stay tuned for more information next month on children's mental health and how substance abuse affects children.
Meet Sarah Matuszak
It's Volunteer Appreciation Month and each week this April we will share an interview one of our amazing CASA volunteers! This week, meet CASA Volunteer Sarah Matuszak, pictured below with her two kids Micah, 5, and Max, 1.
Keep reading for a brief Q&A with Sarah!

What is something that surprised you about being a CASA volunteer?
Sarah: “Honestly, the stress. These young people become such a big part of your life. If I find myself a little late for a phone call or a visit I truly feel bad. It’s not like a hobby or a typical volunteer position. When you become a CASA volunteer, the kids become part of your life; you can’t turn off, and you don’t want to.”
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a CASA volunteer?
Sarah: “There are two. The first is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you insert yourself into as many lives as CASA volunteers do you’re bound to find people who don’t like that you’re involved. Also, there are plenty of cultural and worldview barriers. It’s so easy to stay in your comfort zone, but that’s not where growth happens.
“Secondly, I would say that you have to let go to some extent, especially when your CASA youth is a teenager. Teens are going to do things that you told them not to do, and that’s normal to a certain extent. You have to remember that you can’t force change, but you can guide them and be there when they need you.”
Why should others consider becoming a CASA volunteer?
Sarah: “It’s such a hands-on way to get involved and make sure that the entirety of your effort is going towards helping a child. This is a way to get as close to the problem as possible. With CASA, you have a clear goal and can see the impact of your work in another human being.” Read more.

Thank you to all the CASA volunteers across the country who are making sure foster children feel supported and loved. We are so grateful for the difference you make in the lives of the most vulnerable children in our community. Interested in being a CASA volunteer? Find out more about training here.
Virtual Connection for Young Kids
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum @Our Home: Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

A virtual meetup for caregivers of babies and preschoolers. 
Grab your coffee, get comfy and come meet other parents and caregivers with little ones. The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum will host casual, half-hour conversations and invite guest co-hosts along the way for fun tips and idea sharing to help keep your family connected, healthy and active at home.
To join, please email  questions@bbcmkids.org  with the subject “At Our Home” to request a link and password.
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum Tot Time @Home: Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

 Join us for a virtual version of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum’s popular Tot Time program, especially for caregivers with young children. Let’s reconnect and socialize! We will start with a story time, and then you and your preschooler can join other friends to play interactive games and enjoy open-ended process art activities. We miss our regulars and hope to see you there! Recommended for children age 4 and younger.
To join, please email  questions@bbcmkids.org  with the subject “Tot Time” to request a link and password.

Caribu, a video-calling app integrating children's books and games, free until May 24th
Getting started is easy – users simply download the app, sign up for a free account, and send family members an invitation to join Caribu Contacts. Caribu works just like FaceTime or Skype – tap on the green Family button and then on a contact’s name to start a call. Users can now browse the in-app library to begin reading and drawing together while seeing and hearing each other through video.
For Grandfamilies and Relative Caregivers
Are you a senior citizen raising grandchildren? Great-nieces and nephews or any other eligible child? Act now! You can add eligible children to receive the $500 per child credit along with the Economic Impact Payment/stimulus check. Submit your information to the IRS by TOMORROW April 22nd if you didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and will not file a 2018 or 2019 return and have dependents. V isit the  Non-Filer: Enter Payment Info Here  tool  on  IRS.gov .
CASA Continuing Education Opportunities
Five Effective Coping Strategies to Deal with Stress and Anxiety
Join KMI Board Member and psychologist Dr. Bob Dries for a virtual Osher talk this Wednesday! Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is hosting this talk and Kids Matter Inc. volunteers and families are welcome to join. Dr. Dries will discuss coping strategies that can help us to be adaptive, especially in tough times.

Date: Wednesday, April 22nd
Time: 1:00 PM CT
Join Zoom Meeting
Safety Planning for Victims of Child Abuse
This webinar from the National Criminal Justice Training Center will enhance and build knowledge regarding the use of and development of safety plans for victims of child abuse including physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect. Identify the key elements to consider when contemplating or developing a safety plan. Recognize what it means to make a safety plan, who can make a safety plan, be a part of the safety plan, and what, if any, documentation do you need when putting a safety plan in place.

This course describes how postnatal exposure to an environment where there is substance use and drug activity affects Drug Endangered Children (DEC) throughout their childhood and entire life.

MPS Announces Chromebook Distribution
Last week, high school students began to receive MPS-issued Chromebooks. MPS is prioritizing high school students to make sure they can meet graduation requirements. Principals or school staff will contact families who have been identified to receive a Chromebook to provide instructions for picking up their device.

This week, distribution to middle school students who have been identified as needing a device will take place. Families will be notified by their school leader that they may pick up devices at their schools during specified time periods.

Distribution of devices for elementary school students will take place Wednesday through Friday, April 22, 23, and 24. Families will be notified by their school leader that they may pick up devices at their schools during specified time periods.

Families were asked to complete the MPS Student Device and Internet Access Survey to indicate their needs. If families completed the survey but have not been contacted by the school principal, they should contact the principal for more information. Families who have not yet completed the survey may still do so .
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