June 2019

One of the things I love the most about this team of youth, volunteers and staff is that there is always so much learning going on. Our youth are always teaching us, opening doors to new experiences, and inspiring us to try harder.

Sometimes our youth make us stretch… please feel free to stretch along with us. 
This newsletter introduces several young leaders, highlights resources, and offers connections. 

Read on and be inspired.

Susan Conwell, JD
Executive Director
Inspiring Young Leaders
We first met Chaya as a determined, energetic foster youth who didn't let ever serious obstacles stand in her way. It is no surprise that as a young adult Chaya is a successful business owner and LGBTQ+ leader! Chaya is the founder of Mechanic Shop Femme , a one-stop resource for automotive wisdom for women and LGBTQ+! Mechanic Shop Femme offers online classes, coaching, and blog posts such as "Yes, Proper Tire Pressure Will Save You Money," "Saying No In the Mechanic Shop," and a "Comprehensive Guide to Oil Changes." Chaya is also a plus size lifestyle and fashion blogger. She was recently named one of 10 Awe-Inspiring LGBTQ Activists Changing The World and has been featured in The Nancy Variety Show! podcast from New York Public Radio and even in the Chicago Tribune ! As you are celebrating Pride Month, make sure to show some support for local LGBTQ+ business leaders and get educated about the challenges LGBTQ+ youth have in foster care.
CASA Continuing Education on LGBTQ+ Issues
Here are some resources to get educated about LGBTQ+ issues in the foster care system! If you want to use these as continuing education, let your CASA program manager know.

A short-form documentary from filmmaker Shani Heckman. LGBTQ foster youth are often kicked out of their homes for defining as LGBTQ and then enter state-sanctioned homes that treat them even worse: 75% of LGBTQI foster youth in state care had experienced physical abuse, 66% preferred to live on the streets CWLA, 2007. America’s Most Unwanted reveals untold stories of homophobia in the foster care system.

A TEDx talk featuring Lynne Elvins, who with her partner became the first openly gay couple to be approved for adoption by the Bristol (England) City Council in 2004.

This factsheet provides information about LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) youth in the child welfare system, the unique risks they face, and the important role that foster parents can play in reducing those risks. The factsheet outlines specific actions that foster parents can take to create a welcoming home for all youth in their care and to promote youths' health and well-being in the community.
Supporting Families During National Reunification Month
Have you heard of the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership (BFPP) ? The BFPP was formed in 2016 to support birth parents, foster families and kinship care providers in building connections and using their voices to transform systems, policies and practices to improve permanency outcomes for children and families. It is supported by the National Alliance for Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, the Youth Law Center’s Quality Parenting Initiative, and Casey Family Programs.

One example of how connection between birth and foster parents benefits children is that the foster parent can model healthy parenting behaviors in an informal and natural way. Birth parents can feel frustrated about having to go to formal parenting classes, so time that both foster and birth parents spend with a baby can teach valuable lessons. Read more in this issue brief from Casey Family Programs, How can birth and foster parent partnerships help families reunify? Also check out Partnering with Birth Parents to Support Reunification from the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Kids Matter In the News
Kids Matter's Fostering Healing Team has been out and about sharing its amazing work and wisdom. Here are some highlights:

  • Fostering Healing attorney Beth Lauck was recently elected to the Children and Law Committee of the State Bar Association! The committee meets quarterly and members include judges, court commissioners, prosecutors, guardians ad litem, agency attorneys and private practice attorneys who represent various parties including children, parents, and grandparents as well as agencies that serve children.
  • Jennifer Hastings and Beth Lauck were invited to speak at the Register in Probate Conference. The conference facilitated community connections and created a space to share knowledge on the guardianship process and family dynamics. We were so impressed with all the hard work the amazing Chris Marfilius, Portage County Registrar, and her team did in finding and organizing a conference full of engaging and knowledgeable speakers!
  • Jennifer Hastings traveled all the way to Portland to facilitate a roundtable about the impact of trauma and opioids on family systems at Generations United's biannual conference!

Last but not least, Fostering Healing featured in KinCare Today, a national publication by The Chronicle of Social Change ! The publication is not available online yet but see below for featured content--Jennifer Hastings' advice on how caregivers can respond to children dealing with trauma .
Congratulations, Cassie!
Kids Matter Social Work intern, Cassie Reilly, graduated this May with a Masters in Social Work from UW-Green Bay! She worked with the Fostering Healing team, learned the principles of Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and will continue to deepen her knowledge of TF-CBT by attending additional trainings with Fostering Healing therapist Ivy Zamora. Check out Cassie's final project poster, "Importance of Supportive Services and Clinical Social Work for Relative Caregivers," below. Cassie is a Crisis Intervention Advocate at Safe Harbor, a domestic and sexual violence shelter in Sheboygan. We are so thankful for the opportunity both teach and learn from young professionals like Cassie and wish her all the best. Congrats, Cassie!
Meet our new intern!
Cortney Kallenberger is a Masters of Social Work student at UW-Milwaukee's Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and is concentrating in child and family welfare. She's working with our CASA team this summer as she is at the end of her program and will be graduating in August. Following graduation, she plans to work for Winnebago County Child Protective Services to continue following her passion for helping children and families. She looks forward to all of the knowledge and experience that the summer with Kids Matter will bring to her career as a social worker. Welcome, Cortney!
Grandfamilies at National CASA Conference
This year's National CASA Conference was full of connections that make us "stronger together." Sue had the honor of meeting with GrAND members Bette Hoxie (ME) and Al Johnson (GA) from  Generations United 's GrAND Voices Network . They provide guidance and feedback on Generations United’s resources and advocate on behalf of grandfamilies. Thanks to their work, grandfamilies have a voice!
Thank you, Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School
#SpreadYourShine ! Thank you to Ruth Adorno and her students from the Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School for the colorful cards and uplifting messages for our kids! Along with the cards, they collected activity books, children's books, and kid items. Your BIG gesture will warm some special little hearts!

Ruth inspires youth as a bilingual educator and as a Latina leader empowering women. Check out her instagram @rutyad and the hashtag #spreadyourshine to stay up to date on her local events and receive inspiring messages!
Summer Activities/Spaces For Kids To Hang Out
Miltown Moms has a great updated list of free summer activities for kids!

YMCA OF Metropolitan Milwaukee 2019 Safety Around Water Public Offerings : For kids ages 6+, sign up for $5 swim classes at local county pools! Click here for more information.

Washington Park Wednesdays : June 12-August 31. Innovative local bands, Milwaukee's finest food trucks, and activities sure to energize and entertain fill the park each Wednesday. Bands begin at 6pm, with family activities and give-aways running throughout the entire evening.  Check out the calendar!

Running Rebels Summer Programs : Running Rebels offers mentoring, positive recreational activities and much more year-round. Click here for more information.

MPS Summer Food Service : Milwaukee Public Schools will provide free meals at a variety of locations this summer. Click here for more information.

Urban Ecology Center Camps : Camp sessions are available weekdays between June 17 and August 23.  Click here for a weekly schedule.  Multi-week camps are available for select sessions. Help your child foster a deep connection to nature through hands-on adventures and healthy outdoor fun! Look under logs, hike in the woods, climb trees, build forts, create art, find letterboxes, take pictures and much more! Click here for registration information.