April 2020

Imagine being just a few credits away from your high school graduation and you need a computer to finish those last credits remotely. Imagine spending your 16th birthday during COVID quarantine. Speedy delivery -- Lance is on his way!
Kids Matter has a computer to help out that CASA youth and gifts to make Neveah's 16th birthday a little brighter.

Do you have extra time now? Foster youth still need your help. Join our new accelerated online CASA training! This is your chance to learn new skills and be ready to advocate for a child in our community when life returns to another new normal. See below for details.

Or help us by hand-making birthday and graduation cards with your kids at home! Send us the cards and we'll make sure foster youth receive them in time for their special day. You can help foster youth feel loved and remembered. More details on this fun family project below.

How else can you help from home? These deliveries are only possible because of donations from supporters like you. Consider donating online today--your donation will go towards meeting foster and kinship children's immediate needs during COVID-19. Click here to donate online. Thank you.

Susan Conwell, JD
Executive Director
Meet Carly Nusser
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 Carly Nusser, pictured below with her two nieces Arianna Rose (l) and Bayleigh (r). Click here for the full story of how Carly made a difference in a CASA teen's life.

Keep reading for a brief Q&A with Carly!
What is something that surprised you about being a CASA volunteer?
Carly: “Coming in, I was worried about getting emotionally attached to the kids. What surprised me was that it was not discouraged! That’s what makes a good CASA--being deeply moved by what could or couldn’t happen in your CASA youth’s life. I knew that I wanted to become a stronger strategic thinker so that I can truly do what’s best for the child, but I’ve come to realize that becoming emotionally attached doesn’t mean that your mind is clouded, it just means that you care.”

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a CASA volunteer?
Carly: “I think I put myself in other people’s shoes more than I ever have. Everybody carries their burdens in a different way and it’s important to see the dignity in every person, both within my CASA work and outside.”

Why should others consider becoming a CASA volunteer?
Carly: “I wish I could recommend CASA to every person I meet. What I love about CASA and why I would recommend it is that you can truly be the change you wish to see in the world. That’s really what it means to be involved with Kids Matter. Kids Matter is change in action.” 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? Keep scrolling for the dates of our next accelerated virtual CASA training!
Tips From a Crisis Worker--Fun Activities to Connect with Kids
Hi everyone! My name is Ireland Andrews and I am a MSW intern with the Kids Matter CASA program. I also work as a Crisis Worker through Wraparound Milwaukee. During this time at home it still so important to connect with our kids, whether it be as a parent or a volunteer. I use these fun activities to engage with children and give them a small sense of normalcy over Zoom or Google Duo. Many kids are more than willing to participate because it gives them something fun to do and gives parents or caregivers a short break. Having a dance party or reading a story are great ways to connect with your kids and give them something to look forward to while at home. Showing kids that you are still there for them during this time will make a world of difference in helping them cope with this new normal. While kids may not fully understand what is going on, they see and hear more than we know. Having someone remind them that they are important, and things will go back to normal eventually can make a world of difference.

  1. Read a book together over video chat. 
  2. Try an indoor scavenger hunt or treasure hunt. A scavenger hunt gets kids off the couch and moving around. A treasure hunt takes a bit more planning, but gets kids solving riddles and clues!
  3. Would You Rather: Here’s a printable list of 100 questions for kids. Would you rather be able to create a new holiday or new language? Would you rather meet your favorite celebrity or be in a movie? Would you rather have a pet dinosaur or pet dragon?
  4. The ABC Game: each of you comes up with a word that corresponds with each letter. Ex. A-alligator, B-buffalo. 
  5. Dance Party: play music in the background and have a dance party over video chat.
  6. Play Hangman (Or Snowman: draw the parts of a snowman and a sun with rays. Once the sun is complete, the snowman “melts.”). It’s a good way to practice spelling!
  7. The Emotions Game: each of you acts out an emotion and the other person has to guess which one you are. This game helps kids recognize emotions on others. You can exaggerate emotions or make them more realistic and subtle depending on your kid.
  8. Simon Says: give instructions for kids to act out.
  9. Find the Rainbow! You have to find all the colors of the rainbow in the room you are in. This game can be used as a coping strategy to makes kids slow down and observe their surroundings.
  10. Guess the Song: play the first ten seconds of a song (or longer depending on the age of the child) and have them guess it. 
  11. Two Truths and One Lie: take turns telling each other two truths and one lie. This game gets kids to share more about themselves and get creative about their lie.   
  12. Thankful Tree: have kids draw or write all the things they are thankful for in the branches so it looks like leaves. Kids can also make a tree out of coping strategies or positive things in their life.

If your foster child or CASA youth has a crisis worker, these are some activities the crisis worker can use to connect with kids and give caregivers a break. Check in to see how your child's team can be more creative and supportive!
Ways To Help
Here's a fun and meaningful activity to keep the family busy! Make birthday and graduation cards from construction paper and any materials you have around--so many kids are missing out on celebrations because of coronavirus.

In April alone, nine CASA youth and many more kinship youth will celebrate a birthday. In May, so many of our kids will be missing their graduation and other milestone celebrations. Help us help them celebrate and feel remembered. Email volunteer@kidsmatterinc.org and we'll send you the first name of a youth who can use some cheer.

Send the cards to us at:
Kids Matter Inc.
1850 N Dr MLK Jr Dr, Suite 202
Milwaukee, WI 53212

We'll make sure your cards arrive just in time! Check out these awesome cards from last year.
CASA Continuing Education Opportunities
RECAST MKE Trainings
The City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention is sponsoring free training opportunities in partnership with Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. Due to COVID-19, all RECAST MKE trainings will be virtual until April 24th, 2020. Register for one or more RECAST MKE trainings here.

  • Trauma and Substance Misuse Tuesday, April 7 | 10 AM - 12 PM
  • Suicide Prevention--Question Persuade Refer Tuesday, April 14 | 10 AM - 12 PM
  • Youth Reentry Support Tuesday, April 21 | 10 AM - 12 PM

Darkness to Light Trainings
Child sexual abuse prevention organization, Darkness To Light, is offering two online trainings for free.
  1. NEW Protecting Children During a Crisis (30 minutes)-Click here to access (use code TALK2020).
  2. Talking to Kids About Safety from Sexual Abuse (30 minutes)-Click here to access (no code required).
New Virtual CASA Training
Do you or someone you know suddenly have extra time at home? Are you looking for ways to stay connected and learning? Do you want to make a difference? Kids Matter has added an accelerated all-virtual training for badly needed volunteer advocates for local abused and neglected kids. Consider signing up today!

This new Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer training will be just six afternoon sessions (Mondays and Wednesdays for 3 weeks) from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. All classroom training sessions will be held via teleconferencing technology (such as Zoom). You'll need a computer (ideally with a camera) and internet access. The course and all course materials are free. (If you already signed up for the April 15 training cycle, you are all set! If you might prefer an earlier training, check out the April 15 training cycle here .)

Accelerated Spring Training Cycle
Monday, April 27 from 1:00 PM to 4:00PM
Wednesday, April 29 from 1:00 PM to 4:00PM
Monday, May 4 from 1:00 PM to 4:00PM
Wednesday, May 6 from 1:00 PM to 4:00PM
Monday, May 11 from 1:00 PM to 4:00PM
Wednesday, May 14 from 1:00 PM to 4:00PM

Applications are now being accepted for a limited number of spaces. Background and reference checks and a personal interview via Zoom are required for all volunteer applicants. If interested, email volunteer@kidsmatterinc.org or call 414-344-1220 by April 10th.

You'll be sworn in as a CASA volunteer on May 14th and ready to serve when we get the all clear!
Are you making plenty of online purchases? Remember if you shop through Amazon Smile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Designate Kids Matter Inc. today! Click here for easy steps to set up your Amazon Smile account. Thank you.