April 2020
Are you looking for Some Good News? Join the ranks of people keeping it positive from actor John Krasinski's SGN to Kids Matter local heroes. Just check out the ways that volunteers are helping families in our community!

And YOU make the difference. An early computer donation and a very encouraging volunteer are helping Aliyah graduate on time. Our young people working in front line service jobs have face masks & our grandparents raising grandchildren have food aid thanks to you.
Check out the FAQs & resources here for caregivers, job opportunities & scholarships for young people. Please share your good news and stay connected.

Susan Conwell, JD
Executive Director
Meet DJay and Jennifer
We're rounding out Volunteer Appreciation Month with CASA Volunteers DJay Joi and Jennifer Dudzik. Get a dose of their wisdom below! Thank you to all the CASA volunteers across the country who are making sure children feel supported and loved.
DJay Joi
What is something that surprised you about being a CASA volunteer?
DJay: “I didn’t think I’d feel like a parent, but as a CASA you need to be whatever a kid needs you to be at that moment. Sometimes that’s a parent, sometimes it’s a big brother, and sometimes it’s a friend.”

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a CASA volunteer?
DJay: “It’s not about being in that courtroom as an advocate. It’s about being personable, being human, and knowing that you don’t always need the judge to make changes. CASA volunteers should keep in mind that advocacy is a day-to-day process, and you don’t always need a court order to make things happen.”

Why should other people consider becoming a CASA volunteer?
DJay: “When I started I was not prepared for the life saving work of being a CASA, and I was a pushover with my first CASA youth. I jumped in before I was ready, but because I took that case I became stronger, I became wiser, I became independent. Now, I hold my ground. It can be a great catalyst for growth.
But what I really love about being a CASA is that you’re able to be the person that gives a child hope. You’ll have a bigger impact on that child than you could ever imagine.”
Jennifer Dudzik
What is something that surprised you about being a CASA?
Jennifer: “That I would be working with an entire family. Building up Jerry [the CASA child’s caregiver] and making sure that he has the confidence and support he needs ended up being the most important part of my work. Sometimes the best way to help a child is to help their parent.”

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a CASA volunteer?
Jennifer: “I’ve learned patience. I would have liked to see things move more quickly, but I can’t force it. When I came on, Jerry was struggling to complete any paperwork. He was being pulled in every direction with work, which was far away and required long hours, the kids, his living situation. Once he had a team to help him sort through his priorities things began moving more quickly and it was easier for him to take the next steps.”

Why should others consider becoming a CASA volunteer?
Jennifer: “I think there is a great need for it. The real reason I do it is because I feel the need to support a child who might otherwise get lost in the child welfare system. A CASA volunteer ensures that the child has somebody who’s looking out for their best interests. It can be demanding work, but if you’re really committed to making a difference for a child, it’s an amazing opportunity.”
For Grandfamilies and Relative Caregivers: Milwaukee COVID-19 Q&As
Wondering about the Economic Impact Payment or back-up planning? Click here to view questions regarding changes to operations during the Safer at Home order in Wisconsin. Topics include: Economic Impact Payment, Public Benefits, Court Operations, Estate and Back-Up Planning, Visitation, Housing and Utilities, Debt Collection, Transportation and Health.

If you are a relative caregiver raising someone else’s child and have any type of issue or concern, call Kids Matter Inc. at 414-344-1220 and we will do our best to help. 
Get a Summer Job Through Earn & Learn!
The EARN & LEARN Summer Youth Employment Program from the Workforce Development Board provides youth and young adults entry-level work opportunities. The is a great opportunity for young people to gain work experience in this time of high unemployment. Jobs will not start until July. Jobs will be for a maximum of 20 hours each week and will provide youth the opportunity to develop work readiness skills, such as worksite communication and punctuality, and gain job-specific skills and abilities.

The application deadline is extended until Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.  All applicants must be ages 14-24 and live in Milwaukee County. Click here for more information and to access the application.
Opportunity for Foster Youth: The nsoro Foundation Scholarship
Do you know a former or current foster youth expected to go to college? Encourage them to apply to for a scholarship through The nsoro Foundation. The deadline has been extended to May 15, 2020. Awards range from $1,000 - $10,000 per academic year and are renewable for up to five years if a student remains eligible. Click here for more information.

Eligibility Criteria -- Applicants must:
  • Certify that he/she is currently placed in foster care, a ward of the state and/or eligible for an Independent Living Program having aged-out of foster care as a young adult. 
  • Be a high school graduate or equivalent and have a high school cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  • Have been accepted into an accredited, Pell-eligible college or another post-secondary school.
  • Plan to attend school as a full-time student.
  • Be under the age of 25 on March 31 of the year in which they apply if they have not previously received funding from The nsoro Foundation.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States.
  • Students who have been nsoro scholars for four years will be considered for advanced degree support.

From the Foundation: "Our name is derived from the Ghanan term nsoromma, meaning “children of the heavens.” We believe that youth in foster care–with so few blood ties they can claim–are part of a more divine family."
CASA Continuing Education Opportunities
Kids Matter Book Club
Would you like to be part of a vibrant community discussing issues that matter to you? Now is the time to join! The book club is meeting virtually for now and will choose the next book soon. Email volunteer@kidsmatterinc.org with the subject line "Book Club" to join. Lots of great reading and community building ahead!

How Do We Manage Our Secondary Trauma, Burnout and Compassion Fatigue During COVID-19? Essential Tools from a Trauma Expert
During this time, it’s important to consider strategies that will help us manage through secondary trauma, compassion burnout and stress—while focusing on resiliency. This National CASA/GAL Association network webinar is designed to proactively address the potential anxiety that comes with managing through a difficult time.

Child Sexual Abuse Victims: How to Recognize the Signs and How to Help
Address the dynamics of child sexual abuse, including offender and victim characteristics. Learn to identify the common signs of sexual abuse and obtain more information on multi-disciplinary approaches to providing treatment to child victims and their families, from prevention, to intervention, and treatment.

A Message From an AmeriCorps Leader
"Hi my name is Jelena, and I am the AmeriCorps Member at Kids Matter. The beauty of being an AmeriCorps Member is that we are not traditional employees, we have the freedom to be flexible in difficult times and respond to what our community needs. I am now dedicating some of my time to the Hospitality Center in Racine. The Hospitality Center serves the homeless and near homeless of Racine by offering two meals a day.

If you are able to, consider contacting your local food pantries, soup kitchens, or homeless shelters to see how you can help. They have likely lost many of their regular volunteers and could use your help!"
Are you our next AmeriCorps Member?
Come work with us!  AmeriCorps, often referred to as a domestic Peace Corps, places individuals within communities to commit a year of service. This program places individuals with nonprofit organizations across Wisconsin to build and strengthen volunteer programs. Individuals will receive professional training focused in volunteer management. For full details and to apply, please visit   Volunteer Coordinator and Outreach Specialist on Jobs That Help .
Feeling like you're getting a lot of email from Kids Matter? We're doing our best to keep you updated during COVID-19 and have a lot to share! In May, we'll resume the typical newsletter schedule. For the quickest updates, be sure to check our Facebook page.