CASA of Tulare County
We have three main departments aside from Marketing, Financial, and Administrative. The following departments work primarily with our CASA Volunteers. We have staff dedicated to ensuring your time as a volunteer is as seamless as we can make it. We help you with your court reports, we help you understand your situations, we are sometimes just here to listen and be a friend in a time of emotional confidentiality. Our Advocate Coordinators are standing by to be YOUR advocate, and we work together for the betterment of our children on a daily basis.
0 to 5 Years Old
26% of our foster youth are under the age of 1 years old. During the most vulnerable stage of their life, and often already stricken with drug addiction, these infants need constant care. It is in infancy that we develop a sense of trust and dependency on the adult population. CASA Volunteers are often tasked with the important job of ensuring each child is progressing into the stages of development that is essential to their continued growth in childhood.
Through our partnership with First 5 Tulare County, volunteer advocates monitor the development of children 0-5 years old through observation and interaction utilizing the Ages and Stages Questionnaires. The questionnaires allow the advocate to assess whether children are meeting their developmental milestones in communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving and personal social skills. If a child is not meeting developmental milestones the volunteer can make recommendations for appropriate interventions. The earlier development is assessed, the greater the chance a child has to reach his or her potential.
For more information on the actual Age and Stages Questionnaires, please go to http://agesandstages.com/.
For more information on how you can get involved with CASA of Tulare County's 0 to 5 Program please call us at 559-625-4007 or fill out the volunteer form today!
6 to 21 Years Old
The 6-21 team focuses on children six-years-old and up, until a child “ages out” of foster care adult themselves, or finds permanent placement. More often than not these kids have lived through so much already and they’ve learned their own methods of coping; albeit not always healthy methods. These are the harder cases because as adults we want to give them insight and healthy future goals, but the likelihood of our lectures and talks being helpful can sometimes be slim to none. In fact, the simple act of being present in their lives to listen makes the world of a difference; something very different from a CASA with an infant/toddler.
Older kids in the foster system tend to have moved around much more from placement to placement. This alone causes psychological trauma and is just added on top of the traumas these children have already experienced through abuse and neglect. This proves to be special for CASAs involved in cases like this, because they tend to carry on longer which allows them to be in the child’s life longer and as result build a more lasting relationship with the child. Many times, that relationship can become the most important in their life for a period of time.
The 6-21 team has seen much success in their endeavors, even though their job is not as easy. Successes for them come with happy kids, with or without placement and reunification. We strive to encourage our kids to excel, to finish school and move on to higher education, and to feel safe with another human being that is healthy for them.
Along with having CASAs in place, we work with the community to find ways to help them excel and succeed. For example, some of our kids will be attending camps this summer for a fun excursion away from the chaos they know; one at Yosemite Bible Camp and the other at Royal Family Kids Camp. We’ve also be able to organize backpacks for 157 children as they head back to school; thanks to Ruiz Foods. Recently, we have seen some of our kids move on to graduate high school (which many never will), just because they had a CASA to tell them they’re valuable and capable. Sometimes we’re the only hope they see when meeting after meeting drags on. We are passionate about what we do because these kids, even when difficult, need us.
Our goal is to connect foster children with as many appropriate family members as possible and to ultimately gain permanent connections. There is compelling evidence that children who have some connection with members of their birth family have improved behaviors, improved school performance, and more hope in their lives.
This doesn't mean that we focus on reunifying the children with their family, we simply focus on giving the child a sense of identity with culture, family history and background, and with lasting connections that will exceed beyond their time in foster care.
Tulare County CASA's Family Connections Program will identify and attempt to engage family members in the lives of children in the foster care system.
The project focuses on connecting children who have no relationships with their extended family members.
The Family Search and Engagement model consists of 6 steps that assist in the prioritization and organization of finding and engaging family members.
Discovery: Identify and locate people who are, or could be, considered important to the youth.
Engagement: Communicate with the discovered family members and begin to evaluate the possibility of connecting them with the youth.
Planning: Evaluate information from the previous two stages and take necessary steps to begin the relationship between family/friends and the youth.
Decision: Making: Make timely decisions aimed at providing the youth with appropriate levels of connections that are expected to be enduring. Resources should be identified to provide support to youth and the family members.
Evaluation: Assess the individualized plan to achieve legal and emotional permanency. Create plan B and C.
Follow up Supports: Ensure the family has access to natural and community supports that become enduring.
FAMILY isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who WANT YOU in theirs; the ones who ACCEPT YOU for who you are. The ones who would DO ANYTHING to see you smile and who LOVE YOU no matter what.
Please contact Maria Franco at (559) 625-4007 ext 30 or send an email to Maria@casatulareco.org for more information on training schedules and how to become involved in Family Connections.