Welcome to the Buzz, CASA/LA’s hub for volunteer news, upcoming events, resources, and more! View a summary of the page’s contents below and feel free to click to jump down to the section that is most relevant to you. The Buzz is updated monthly and each month’s highlights can be delivered straight to your inbox.
If you have any questions about the Buzz or anything else CASA/LA-related, please reach out to Isabel Bloom, our manager of volunteer relations. Thanks for being an advocate!

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEWS

Hike with CASA/LA, Back to School Block Party & More

TRAINING

Three In-Services & Three Other Trainings This Month

CONNECTION

Four CASA Connections & Book Groups

YOUTH RESOURCES

Sex Ed Training, Free Coding Camp, Professional Development Event & More

SUPPORT CASA/LA

Upcoming In-Person Info Sessions, Pride Swag & More

KEY GUIDES / LINKS

Litmos, Handbooks, Emotional Support, & Much More

NEWS

Hike with CASA/LA on July 14th
When: Sunday, July 14th at 7:30am
Difficulty: This hike is about two miles round trip. There are nice views and lots of trees. We will move at a slow pace and will be happy to take breaks.
Duration: Approximately one hour
Details: Elysian Park Trail East Loop
Directions to Meeting Point: We will be meeting at these coordinates on Academy Road. See this picture of the meeting point. Entering from the western edge of Elysian park, you will be on Academy Road, and just past the entrance will see the meeting point on your left.
Parking: There is a small parking lot opposite the meeting point in addition to street parking on academy road. There is additional street parking available in the surrounding neighborhood.
Advice: There should be some shade on this hike, but given the heat, we encourage you to bring a hat, sunscreen, and water.
Questions: Contact Emily Scrimshaw
Pre-Register for Our Back to School Block Party by 7/6!
This event will feature a live dj, giveaways, food, games, onsite hairstylists and barbers, a CASA/caregiver lounge, haircare workshops, and more! This is CASA of Los Angeles’s largest back to school event and will be a lot of fun! This is an event that you do not want to miss! Make sure to secure your spot by registering below.
Event Details:
Date: Sunday, August 4th, 2023
Time: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
No walk ins allowed, please pre-register by July 6th.

 Click here to register 

 

Save the Date for Wine+Art

Mark your calendars for 12th Annual Wine+Art event!

When: November 2, 2024

Where: The Beehive in Los Angeles

What: This annual fundraiser brings together local artists (who graciously donate their work to our auction) and the best food and drinks that LA has to offer, all to raise awareness and crucial funding for CASA/LA. Stay tuned for more details!

In the meantime…

  • One of the highlights of our event is showcasing the talent of our young people so if your CASA youth would like to submit a piece of art for the event, please use this link.
  • If you or someone you know would be interested in becoming a sponsor or becoming a food/beverage vendor, please send reach out to Kim Goldman.
  • Interested in joining the W+A planning committee? Click here to complete the form and we will be in touch.

Monthly CASA Crush & Shoutouts

Amber Eisenmann came to CASA with experience working directly with teens as part of a peer education program for Planned Parenthood. She now works with adults and was excited about reconnecting with teens through her CASA work. 

Just over a year ago, Amber was matched with then nearly 16 year old Noah. From the beginning, there was a lot of excitement on the part of Amber, Noah and his caregiver. Amber expected not much to happen on the first visit, but straight away Noah was open to spending time with her, especially if it included going out to eat. When they met, Noah’s main goals for his life revolved around moving forward with his transition: getting on testosterone, completing a legal name change, and getting top surgery.

This first year of advocacy has focused mainly on helping Noah get the gender affirming care he wants and also encouraging him to become more independent. Amber has taken on both medical and developmental rights (sharing them with Noah’s mother). He has a relationship with his mother, but it’s clear that, after being in the system for five years, reunification isn’t going to happen. His mother has trouble supporting Noah’s gender identity and is uncomfortable with him making any changes before he turns 18. This has slowed the process down a lot, but Amber has been able to push to expedite things as much as possible by staying in touch with everyone on Noah’s team. Last month, they reached a big milestone when Noah got his first testosterone shot. His caregiver brought him into the city for his appointment and Amber met them there. All of them were so excited and Amber and Noah went out to a sushi counter afterwards to celebrate. Up until this point, Noah hadn’t taken the train by himself or really moved around the city by himself at all. They made a deal that if he went out for lunch with Amber, he would take the train back home by himself and he did just that. Amber hopes that, with time, he’ll be taking the train to appointments or to meet her by himself. Since that first appointment, Noah has been giving himself his shots everyThursday, and every week Amber sends him a text with a shot emoji saying “happy thursday!” and asking how the injection went. Soon, Noah will be meeting with his doctor to begin the conversation about top surgery.

 Noah’s longer term goals have been more vague, but Amber hopes that he’ll feel more motivated to think longer term as he feels more confident about his gender presentation. As an educational rights holder, Noah’s educational success and happiness have been another big focus. Noah recently transferred to a new school that’s closer to his placement and that also offers lots of arts programming. The transition has been difficult but Amber is hopeful that the school will be the kind of creative and supportive environment in which Noah will thrive. He’s struggling in certain subjects, but despite this, he is still on track to graduate next year. After staying with his mother over the holidays, Noah came back saying he was interested in going to a residential college. Amber’s impression is that he’s gaining confidence as well as perspective on his mother and is beginning to hope for a different kind of life for himself. Noah is now touring colleges and getting ready to think about senior year of high school.

Amber shared that “it’s very meaningful to get to be a person in someone’s life when they’re really vulnerable. They don’t have those parent figures who are supposed to shepard you… It makes me feel really good that I can help this kid who has extra needs beyond even what a typical teenager would have.” Whether they’re going to the doctor or Noah’s first trip to the movies in years, Amber has been by his side, supporting him to explore new experiences and move towards a more independent, confident, and happy version of himself. And she’s been challenged too, especially when it comes to communicating in emojis smile

Thanks for your advocacy, Amber! Hope you had a great Pride!

If you’re interesting in learning more about supporting LGBTQIA+ youth, we hope you’ll join us for an upcoming event. Options include our Transgender, Gender Expansive, & Intersex (TGI) Cultural Transformation In-Service Training (7/10) and our LGBTQIA+ CASA Connection (7/22).

Nominate a CASA Crush

Know a CASA volunteer who deserves a shoutout and/or has a great advocacy story to share? Use this form to nominate a future CASA Crush feature!

TRAINING

Upcoming In-Service Trainings

Other Trainings & Resources

Register for Our Virtual Early Childhood Training

Come gain an in-depth understanding of the unique needs of young children (0-5) who are in the child welfare system. Participants will learn how early childhood trauma can influence developmental outcomes, the importance of relationships in the development of young children, how to build protective factors for young children and their families/caregivers, and helpful resources to aid in advocacy work.
This training is comprised of six modules that build upon each other. Completion of all six modules is recommended to get the most out of this training.  Space is limited so register early!
SCHEDULE:
Module 1: Online (before module 2)
Module 2: Wednesday, August 7, 9am-12pm in CASA Monterey Park Office
Module 3: Online (before module 4)
Module 4: Wednesday, August 14, 9am-12pm in CASA Monterey Park Office
Module 5: Online (before module 6)
Module 6: Wednesday, August 21, 9am-12pm in CASA Monterey Park Office
Continuing Education Credits for CASA/LA Volunteers & Staff: 12 hours
Questions: Contact Lauri Halderman
Online Resources from the Foster Together Network

The UCLA Prevention Center of Excellence is excited to share a collection of resources for child welfare professionals, generously supported by Pritzker Foster Care Initiative. Available on the Wellbeing for LA Learning Center, this curated collection includes handouts (also available in Spanish), videos, and online trainings that utilize evidence-based behavior management strategies and resilience-promoting parenting skills to reduce placements for children in LA County’s welfare system and promote family and individual development.

 

Learn more and view all available resources here.

Create an account and view resource library here.

 

Connection

CASA Connections

CASA Connections are intended to be positive social experiences that encourage CASAs to connect and build networks of friendship and support.

General CASA Connection

What: A meeting for any CASA interested in connecting with and/or getting support from other CASAs!

When: Monday, July 15th at 6pm

Where: Zoom

Register Here

LGBTQIA+ CASA Connection

What: A new space for CASAs who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as CASAs working with LGBTQIA+ identifying youth. Join us for our second meeting as we continue to set goals for this space and celebrat Pride Month! 

When: Monday, July 22nd at 5:30pm

Where: Zoom

Register Here

Education Advocacy CASA Connection

What: Join this CASA Connection led by CASAs with many years of special education experience. The group is here to help talk through difficult issues and create community for CASAs advocating for their youth’s rights to an education.

When: Thursday, July 25th, 5:30pm

Where: Zoom

⇒Register here⇐

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) CASA Connection

What: This is a space for CASAs working with a youth who is CSEC-involved or at-risk in any way. We come together for peer support, resource sharing, learning, and community. After joining a meeting, one CASA shared,

“I felt so supported being in a space with CASAs who immediately understood the unique joys and challenges of this work. When I get discouraged or intimidated by what my youth is up against, my CASA Connection peers lift me up.”

When: On hiatus for the Summer! Next meeting will be on Monday, 9/9 at 5:30pm (click here to register). We will be rebranding this connection, so stay tuned for updates.  If you have CSEC-related questions in the meantime, please reach out to our staff committee at csec@casala.org

 

Book Groups

Book clubs are independent of CASA/LA and are organized by and for volunteers. Join to discuss topical books with fellow CASAs!

Coastline Book Group

When: Monday, July 8th

Where: At a CASA’s home in Santa Monica

We’re Reading: “When We Wallk By,” by Donald W. Burnes & Kevin F. Adler

RSVP: contact Jeanne Irving (jirving@advocatecasala.org)

*Space is limited to those with completed COVID-19 vaccines.

San Fernando Valley Book Group

When: Tuesday, July 9th

Where: CASA’s Home in SFV

We’re Reading: “Demon Copperhead” by BarbaraKingsolver

RSVP: Contact Renne Bilson (rbilson@advocatecasala.org)

* Space is limited to those with completed Covid-19 vaccinations

Youth Resources

New Resources

Ongoing Resources

Youth Sex Ed Training Series from Planned Parenthood
Registration is open for the Summer 2024 Teen Talk YAS series, a free, virtual, community-based sex-ed series for youth in foster care. The series is coordinated by the Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth (RHEP) and taught by educators at Planned Parenthood Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley.
 
The one-week series runs from July 22 to 26, meeting each day of the week from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. for a webinar session via Zoom. These live, interactive workshop sessions have been reviewed by former foster youth and adapted for youth in foster care. Teen Talk meets SB 89 requirements for youth in foster care and is compliant with the California Healthy Youth Act.
To participate, youth must be in foster care, between the ages of 12-18, enrolled in high school, and have access to headphones and a personal device that connects to Zoom. Youth can earn up to a $180 Amazon or Target gift card for participating in the series.
Learn more and enroll here.
The Code to Grow Foundation: FREE 2-Week Coding Camp

One of our community partners, The Code to Grow Foundation, is a non-profit that provides year-long coding and mentorship opportunities to youth ages 9-14 in underserved communities and school districts in order to advance coding education through equitable access.

They are offering a FREE two-week coding camp at PlanetBravo this upcoming summer and have offered us 5 slots for any CASA youth who are interested in learning how to code. Lunches can be provided based on need and request, and transportation can be secured through Hop Skip Drive.

If you are working with a youth between the age of 9-14 who might be interested, please use the link below to apply!

Professional Pathways: Headshots, a Youth Development Event

Purpose: A fantastic opportunity for young people (ages 12-21) to take the first step towards their professional journey. Any youth involved in CASA/LA programming can enjoy a free professional headshot photo session as well as resume building group to level up their professional profiles. Resume examples and templates for youth will be provided as well as one on one support.

  • Date 1: Wednesday July 24th – 11am-1pm
  • Location 1: 201 Centre Plaza Drive, Suite 1100, Monterey Park, CA 91754-2142
  • Date 2: Saturday July 27th: 11am-1pm
  • Location 2: 1202 W. Avenue J, Lancaster, CA 93534

HOW DO YOUTH SIGN UP TO ATTEND?

Youth involved in CASA programing should use the QR code provided on the flyer here to sign up for a date/time that works for them. They can also CLICK THIS LINK.

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the PEI Program here

 

Scholarships for Youth Attending Community College or Vocational Programs

The Friends of Foster Children of San Gabriel Valley is offering scholarships to 10 foster youth who will be attending community college or vocational program for the 2024/2025 academic year. Students can receive the funds via Venmo and be used for whatever they need.

 

The deadline to apply is August 1st, 2024.

Educational Scholarship Opportunity
It comes with immense pleasure to announce the continuation of the ARS (Aaron Ruben Scholarship) educational scholarship.
Do you have a youth who is interested in attending college or vocational school? If so, encourage him/her to apply for the Aaron Ruben Scholarship.

 

Scholarship Origin: The Aaron Ruben Scholarship was established in 2000 by Mr. Aaron Ruben. His generosity has paved the way for supporting CASA youth in pursuing higher education.

Purpose: The scholarship aims to provide financial assistance to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) youth, helping them achieve their educational goals.

Eligibility and Requirements: To learn about the specific eligibility criteria and application requirements, interested students should refer to the scholarship application. It’s essential to review the details thoroughly to ensure a successful application.

Contact Information: For any questions or clarifications related to the scholarship, applicants can reach out to Carolyn R. McGee, the Advocacy Team Manager. She can be contacted at 323-859-2888 (extension 6327) or via email.

 

View the application here

Networking Opportunity for Women in the Arts

The Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art is a networking organization for women in the arts. They offer a broad range of events, opportunities, and programs including exhibitions, activism, and community building.

They are currently accepting new members and would like to invite any CASA youth who’s interested in art and would like to connect with other women sharing the same passion. The membership fee for one year is $75; however, they have scholarships available which would cover the membership fee.

For questions or to join, please contact Cathy Engle-Marder (SCWCA Memberships Director).

Baby2Baby: Resources for Pregnant or Parenting Youth and Young Children

Talk with your advocate supervisor about requesting diapers/wipes and other baby supplies through CASA/LA from Baby2Baby. All orders must be placed by CASA/LA staff.

If your CASA youth is expecting and at least 6 months pregnant, please speak with your Advocate Supervisor about requesting a Welcome Baby basket.

Coffee with a Cause: Job Training for TAY & NMDs

Transitional age youth (TAY) and non-minor dependents (NMD) aged 16-24 can apply to apply for this job training cohort to learn soft skills and get connected to paid internships in coffee, retail, construction, and landscaping.

  • 4/1: Application deadline
  • 4/1-4/12: Interviews
  • 4/15-4/26: Orientation and Soft Skill Training
  • 4/29-7/31: Primary Internship PeriodMay: Mentor Assignment (youth get a volunteer mentor for 1 year)
    5/1-7/31: Internship Extension/Job Searching Period

Learn more on the Coffee with a Cause website here

Find the youth application here

For Goodness Cakes: Treats for Youth Birthdays and Graduations

For Goodness Cakes is a collective of professional bakers who volunteer to make cakes for youth facing adversity. They’d love to make a cake for your CASA youth! See their FAQ part 1 here and FAQ part 2 here. Reach out to your advocate supervisor to ask them to request a cake for your youth. 

Free Custom Singing Stuffed Animals for Children in Foster Care

The company Mama Sing My Song provides free custom singing stuffed animals for children in foster care. 

Click here to place an order!

A Home Within: Free Therapy for CASA Youth

A Home Within – CASA Therapy Project is a collaboration with A Home Within and CASA of Contra Costa County. CASA youth are eligible for free teletherapy services if they are ages 12-24 and have mild/moderate mental health needs. 

For more information, click here. 

Please share the referral form and youth flier with your youth’s CSW.

Language Line

Use Language Line to speak with monolingual individuals on your case. Call in to the service to request an interpreter for the language that you need (out of 290+ language options), or seek help determining the language for which you require translation. View this guide document for call-in instructions.

Paid Mental Health Survey for Black Trans Youth
What: Participate in a 1.5 hour interview about the experience of accessing mental health resources.
Who Qualifies: Youth aged 18-27 who identify as Black / African-American and Transgender or Gender Diverse. Youth must also have previously accessed or currently accessing mental health resources.
What they get: Receive a $50 gift card for a one-and-a-half hour interview either in-person or through Zoom.
Pick up a Handmade Quilt for your Youth

Contact your supervisor if you haven’t yet gotten a quilt from the office for your youth. Once you pick one up, please complete the thank you note that comes with the quilt. You can take a picture of the note or scan it and email it to Lauri Halderman 

Refer a Young Person to Specialized DCFS LGBTQIA+ Services

As a part of DCFS’s growing DEI initiatives, DCFS is offering referrals for specialized services for our LGBTQIA+ youth. You can find the community provider referral form and the youth self referral form linked below.

 Click here to view the referral form instructions

Click here to view the youth referral form

Support casa/la

In-person info sessions are back!

If you would like us to host an info session in your community please reach out to OT Mosley-Bremond (director of volunteer recruitment).

CASA/LA PRIDE shirts & stickers are back in stock!

Elevate your style this June and make a difference for kids in foster care. Explore the CASA/LA shop and discovere unique items that not only add a touch a flair to your life, but also support our CASA kids.

 

Click here to start shopping today!

 

 

Buy a perfectwhitetee "you are perfect." Sticker to Support CASA/LA
Our gratitude goes out to CASA volunteer Jennifer Menchaca, co-founder of the apparel brand perfectwhitetee. She’s named CASA/LA as the beneficiary of the brand’s inaugural you are perfect. campaign. $1 of the sale of each of the you are perfect. stickers will be donated to CASA/LA!
Become a Monthly Donor

Just as consistent advocacy is vital for the well-being of the children we serve, the reliable financial support from Thrive monthly donors is essential to our ability to train, recruit, and support more CASA volunteers.

Monthly donations are crucial to buffering our organization from the ups and downs of life, ensuring that there is no lull in service to the youth we serve.

Help us sustain our transformational programs through a monthly gift.

 

Click here to join us now

More Ways to Give
  • Use your Ralphs Rewards Card to earn donations for CASA/LA.
  • Donate your car, boat, RV, or motorcycle with Helping Hands Charity Services.
  • Host a community drive.
  • Consider CASA/LA in your planned giving.
  • Invite others to become CASA volunteers.

Click here to get started

Litmos: Access Past Trainings

Visit Litmos (linked in training section above) for webinars on transition age youth, early childhood, and more. Contact Isabel Bloom with any questions.

Nominate a Volunteer for a CASA Crush

Please use this form to nominate a CASA volunteer who deserves a shoutout and/or who has a great advocacy story to share. Thank you!

ETO: CASA/LA's Database

Need help with ETO? No worries, we got you covered. If the advocate handbook doesn’t have your answer, you can email the ETO helpdesk. Additionally, we have a recorded ETO training available on Litmos.

Court Report Writing Resources

Check out our court report writing handbook and templates. Find a court report writing training on Litmos. We also hold quarterly in-service trainings on this topic.

Emotional Support for CASAs

We care about your well-being. All volunteers may access our EAP program for anonymous counseling.

Grief Resources

CASA/LA is connected to numerous resources and organizations to help support you through grief. We care about your well-being. All volunteers may access our EAP program for anonymous counseling. Additionally, on April 24th, Cal CASA is hosting a virtual training on understanding grief. Otherwise, please reach out to your advocate supervisor for individualized support or to Isabel Bloom to learn more about specific resources and/or upcoming events.

Volunteer Handbook

Read our volunteer handbook for policies covering everything from conflict of interest and mandatory reporting to boundaries and posting on social media.

CASA Shop

Want to get your own CASA/LA swag?

Our CASA Shop will have you looking good and supporting our cause all at once. It’s a win win!