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Washington CASA Association is a network of 10 local programs in Washington state serving 12 counties. Through our valued membership with National CASA/GAL, we belong to a network of 950 community-based programs nationwide, that recruit, screen, train, and support court-appointed special advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers. Those advocates are volunteers, just like you, who stand up and speak out to help children experiencing abuse and neglect.


CASA/GAL Volunteers make a life-changing difference

Local CASA/GAL Programs make a life changing difference for children and youth in Washington.

For a child who has experienced neglect or abuse, having a caring CASA Volunteer to advocate for them can make a life changing difference. 

 

How CASA Volunteers Help

Children who have experienced abuse or neglect are involved with multiple systems—the court system, the child welfare system, the health care system, and the school system. CASA volunteers  help connect the dots between these systems to ensure that information is shared, when appropriate, to get the best possible outcomes for children and youth.

During the school year  CASA volunteers advocate for children to ensure they have access to the educational resources needed.


Call to Action

If you would like to support the children, youth and families, learn how you can become a CASA/GAL volunteer here.

Latest News

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, scrutiny of police officers—including those in schools—has increased. Social science research has shown that school mental health staff members contribute more to positive student outcomes than school police. Nonetheless, high school students in 37 states are more likely to attend a school with a police officer than with a social worker.

Key Numbers

Data from the 2017–18 academic year show the following:

Fifty-five percent of high school students, 38 percent of middle school students, and 18 percent of elementary school students attend a school with police presence, though the rates in high school and middle school have dropped since 2013–14 (when 67 percent of high schools and 45 percent of middle schools had a police officer).
The four states with the highest shares of high school students in schools with police officers are Virginia (92 percent), South Carolina (87 percent), Tennessee (86 percent), and Georgia (85 percent).
Forty percent of high school students, 33 percent of middle school students, and 31 percent of elementary school students attend a school with a social worker.
States with the lowest rates of social workers in high school are Oklahoma (5 percent), Florida (9 percent), Mississippi (13 percent), and Alabama (15 percent). States with the highest shares of their high school students in schools with social workers are Rhode Island (92 percent), New Jersey (89 percent), Connecticut (89 percent), and Maine (79 percent).
Sixty-two percent of students in high schools that are 20 to 80 percent students of color see a police officer in their school staff.
The likelihood of a student of color attending a high school with a social worker is roughly 40 percent, regardless of the school’s racial demographics.

Implications

School mental health support staff members and school police officers are both significant investments, but social workers are ideally positioned to help students and help address underlying inequities. Though the presence of police decreases the rates of serious student misbehavior, it is also associated with increased law enforcement referrals for nonserious crimes and decreased rates of high school graduation. Hiring a well-trained school mental health staff, meanwhile, improves student academic and socioemotional skills, high school graduation rates, and school climate while decreasing disciplinary incidents.

Though police and social workers are not mutually exclusive, understanding which students encounter which support staff each day can highlight disparities in educational experiences. Removing policing and punitive discipline and replacing them with equitable access to mental health staff and safe schools can be a critical step toward creating a public schooling system that is equipped to meaningfully serve all students.

Explore the Data

GitHub
Education Data Portal: 2017–18 Civil Rights Data Collection

Additional Resources

Youth of Color
What does the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” mean for students?
School social workers and educational outcomes
Do police keep schools safe? Fuel the school-to-prison pipeline? Here’s what research says.
3 Key Questions for Rethinking Student Safety Investments
Social work services in schools: Evaluation of a community-school social work model
Results from a statewide school-based mental health program: Effects on school climate
Police in schools and student arrest rates across the United States: Examining differences by race, ethnicity, and gender
The prevalence of police officers in US schools
Cops & No Counselors: How the lack of school mental health staff is harming students
Patrolling public schools: The impact of funding for school police on student discipline and long‐term education outcomes

Partnerships between child care providers and food access initiatives are a promising approach to supporting young children’s nutrition. In this brief, we drawing from examples of two such partnerships that received funding from the Walmart Healthier Food Access grant and highlight three promising strategies those partnerships employ: one that supports children and families directly, one that fosters the capacity of child care providers and their ability to support child nutrition in their own care settings, and one that organizes at a systems level to better coordinate efforts that target families with young children. We provide evidence-based recommendations for building these partnerships in local communities.

This appendix describes the data and methodology used to estimate federal program and tax expenditures on children in Kids’ Share 2021: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2020 and Future Projections.

Public spending on children represents an effort to invest in the nation’s future by supporting children’s healthy development and human potential. To inform policymakers, children’s advocates, and the general public about how public funds are spent on children, this 15th edition of the annual Kids’ Share report provides an updated analysis of federal expenditures on children from 1960 to 2020. This year’s Kids’ Share report also provides a view of public expenditures from the nation’s initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our projections of federal expenditures on children through 2031 give a sense of how budget priorities were scheduled to unfold based on economic and legislative responses as of May 2021 but do not include legislation that might be enacted by the end of 2021. View a single-page formatted version of the report with text and charts side-by-side here  .

A few highlights of the chartbook:

Federal expenditures per child were significantly higher in 2020 than in 2019 and prior years, reflecting federal relief efforts in response to the pandemic. In 2020, the federal government spent about $7,800 per child younger than age 19. Federal expenditures are projected to surge even higher in 2021, to $10,700 per child, as the federal pandemic response continues, though under the law in place as of May 2021 they are scheduled to fall back to prepandemic levels.
COVID-19 relief bills enacted during the pandemic expanded assistance to children through three rounds of stimulus checks, an increase in the child tax credit (CTC), an education stabilization fund, expanded child care funding, increased nutritional assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and increased federal funding for Medicaid. Dozens of other children’s programs and tax credits received smaller increases.
Tax provisions and health programs remain the two largest categories of federal support for children in 2020, accounting for more than three-fifths of all federal expenditures on children. Spending on children through tax provisions is projected to spike dramatically in 2021 as a result of the stimulus checks administered through the tax code and a temporary increase in the CTC.
Despite increased dollar amounts spent on children in 2020, as a share of federal outlays, the $482 billion invested in children in 2020 fell to 7.4 percent of all federal outlays, down from roughly 9 percent in recent years as overall federal spending swelled in response to the pandemic. The children’s share of the federal budget is projected to further decline slightly to 7.2 percent over the next decade, under laws in place as of May 2021.
Interest payments on the national debt are projected, under laws in place as of May 2021, to grow as a share of the budget, from 5 percent in 2020 to 12 percent by 2031, reflecting a higher national debt and projected rising interest rates.
As a share of the economy (GDP), federal outlays for children grew during the pandemic but by significantly less than other budget priorities. Federal spending during the pandemic grew from about 20 percent of GDP to a post–World War II high of 30 percent of GDP, with spending on children growing from around 2 percent to 2.3 percent of GDP.
Over the next decade, all categories of spending on children as a share of GDP are projected to decline below prepandemic levels. Most categories also see declines or remain at similar levels in real dollars.

Home-based child care (HBCC) providers support children’s development and help parents work. In 2019, slightly more than 1 million paid or listed HBCC providers cared for 4.3 million children younger than age 13, and another 4 million unpaid HBCC providers cared for another 8 million children. Despite the important role these providers play, however, many appear unlikely to participate in or benefit from public supports. Our recent reviews of their involvement with a diverse set of federal programs and services, including the Child Care and Development Fund, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, home visiting services supported by multiple funding streams, infant and early childhood mental health consultation, and financial supports from the Small Business Administration, find that HBCC providers are consistently less likely to benefit from these programs and services. This brief provides an overview of some common barriers HBCC providers face across these federal programs and services and explores the extent to which networks of home-based providers—such as staffed family child care networks or informal networks—could help address these barriers if provided appropriate resources and supports.

This brief provides an overview of opportunities, challenges, and steps needed to expand infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) to support more home-based child care (HBCC) providers. It is one of a series of briefs on supporting HBCC providers’ participation in a number of federal programs or service systems. Based on interviews with experts and a review of the literature, we first describe the HBCC context and how it is unique and then describe the basics of mental health consultation, how it is funded, and its benefits for child care providers and children. We discuss challenges and considerations for expanding IECMHC to support more HBCC providers, recommended action steps, and future directions for research to address gaps in knowledge.

Diaper need—i.e., not having enough diapers to keep an infant or child clean, dry, and healthy—is a common problem that can impact children’s physical and developmental health, parent mental health, and family economic well-being. Home visitors can help alleviate diaper need because of their frequent interactions with families of young children. Home visiting programs can partner with local diaper banks to help distribute supplies directly to parents and caregivers. This research brief produced for the National Home Visiting Resource Center summarizes existing research and identifies four promising strategies to address this important issue.

 

This brief was developed for the National Home Visiting Resource Center and is available on its website. The NHVRC is led by James Bell Associates in partnership with the Urban Institute. Support is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation and previously from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Introduction

Home visiting programs in agencies funded by the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program use various management practices to onboard, train, and evaluate their staff. However, which practices are used varies between different programs and by program setting. Nearly all program managers reported using some practices such as reflective supervision and providing informal opportunities for feedback, while other practices including assigning peer mentors and training staff on assessing employee performance are reported less frequently. Additionally, home visitors’ intentions to stay in their job are significantly related to whether their programs use certain practices, including several less frequently used practices. These findings may prompt programs to consider assessing their current management practices.

Primary Research Questions

How often do programs use different management practices, and how does that vary across program settings?
How influential is employee input in different areas of program decisionmaking?
How do program management practices relate to home visitors’ turnover intentions?

Purpose

This brief examines management practices used by home visiting programs receiving MIECHV Program funding based on national surveys of program managers and staff conducted in 2018. Analyses explore how frequently program managers report using various management practices, the influence of employee input in different areas of program policy decisionmaking, and associations between these factors and home visitors’ turnover intentions.

Key Findings and Highlights

Key findings include the following:

Nearly all program managers reported using some practices that aim to support staff development, including providing informal opportunities for feedback and practicing reflective supervision, regardless of program setting. Additionally, more than 90 percent reported scheduling formal sessions to provide feedback on performance reviews, supporting staff to set and track professional development goals throughout the year, and using performance reviews as a professional development tool.
Between a half and two-thirds of programs reported assigning peer mentors, providing training on how to evaluate employee performance, and using annual performance reviews for salary and promotion decisions. Compared with other programs, programs in community nonprofits less frequently reported assigning peer mentors to new home visitors and training supervisors on assessing employee performance.
Around 70 percent of program managers reported employee input is influential in setting policies on staff safety, the physical work environment, and service improvement, but less than half reported staff input is influential in hiring decisions (43 percent) and implementing technical changes affecting the agency (e.g., relocation; restructuring programs) or staff layoffs (23 percent).
Several program management practices reported by managers are related to home visitors’ intentions to stay in their job or the field. These practices include assigning peer mentors (56 percent of programs), using performance reviews for salary and promotion decisions (64 percent of programs), and continuous employee goal-setting and goal-tracking (90 percent of programs).
Overall, 54 percent of home visitors reported they were very likely to remain in their current position in the next two years and 28 percent reported they were very or somewhat likely to find a job not in home visiting. In programs where managers reported greater employee influence on the physical work environment, staff hiring, and service improvements for families, home visitors were more likely to have said they intend to stay in their jobs or in the home visiting field for the next two years.

Methods

The project includes two major components: (1) a two-stage national survey of the home visiting workforce in LIAs receiving MIECHV Program funding and (2) case studies in eight states involving interviews with program leaders and supervisory staff, as well as focus groups with home visitors in 26 LIAs. Data on program management practices for this brief are drawn from the Program Manager Survey. The correlational analysis examining the relationship between home visitors’ career intentions and different program management practices link the Program Manager Survey data to data from the Home Visitor and Supervisor Survey. Survey data reflect a point in time in late 2018.

Introduction

The success of home visiting programs depends on home visitors establishing trusting relationships with families. To allow home visitors sufficient time to develop these relationships and work with families, caseloads—defined as the number of children or families a home visitor serves—should be manageable. Caseloads differ for a variety of reasons. Yet little is known about how home visitors feel about their caseloads and how their caseload size affects their work experiences. This brief summarizes descriptive findings from the Home Visiting Career Trajectories project regarding staff perceptions of client caseloads.

Primary Research Questions

How do home visitors feel about their caseload size?
How do home visitors’ perceptions of caseload burden relate to their reports of on-the-job stress, work-life conflict, and turnover intentions?
What types of home visitors report their caseloads are lighter or heavier than they can handle?

Purpose

This brief draws on data about home visiting caseloads from a national survey of home visitors in programs receiving Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program funding and focus groups with home visitors across 26 local implementing agencies (LIAs). Analyses explore how home visitors feel about their caseloads and associations between perceived caseload burden and home visitors’ report of job stress, work-life conflict, and turnover intentions. The brief also describes program characteristics and personal characteristics of home visitors related to perceived caseload fit.

Key Findings and Highlights

Key findings include the following:

Overall, 75 percent of home visitors are somewhat or completely satisfied with their caseload size. Most home visitors (68 percent) report that their caseloads are “about right,” while 14 percent feel their caseloads are too heavy and 18 percent feel their caseloads are too light.
When caseloads are heavier than home visitors feel they can handle, home visitors are more likely to report on-the-job stress and less work-life balance.
Perceived caseload fit varies by program and staff characteristics. Home visitors who perceive caseloads as too light are typically new staff in their first year on the job. Home visitors are more likely to perceive their caseloads as heavier than they can handle when their programs have at least one staff vacancy. Reports of experiencing heavy caseloads are most common among home visitors with three to five years of experience.

Methods

The project includes two major components: (1) a two-stage national survey of the home visiting workforce in LIAs receiving MIECHV Program funding and (2) case studies in eight states involving interviews with program leaders and supervisory staff, as well as focus groups with home visitors in 26 LIAs. Findings for this brief draw primarily on the home visitor survey and focus groups.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented public health emergency that crippled the child care market in the United States. This crisis highlighted the essential role of the early care and education (ECE) workforce in the nation’s economic stability and growth. The pandemic’s disproportionate effect on Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities further raised racial and social justice concerns.

In January 2021, the Urban Institute, Child Trends, and the Foundation for Child Development sponsored a virtual convening. The convening brought together scholars, along with national, state, and local experts, to discuss key issues affecting the ECE workforce before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants recommended policy and practice solutions to address the challenges of the structural wage and opportunity gaps the ECE workforce faces and to support workforce well-being. This report presents policy and practice recommendations.

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