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Washington CASA Association is a network of 12 local programs in Washington state serving 13 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.


Child abuse. Child neglect. These aren’t easy topics. It is painful to think about children and youth experiencing abuse or neglect. Sadly, it happens every day. Many times, these children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care. This happened to more than 7,520 children in Washington last year. At Washington CASA, we are dedicated to helping these children. Throughout Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, we hope you will join us in raising awareness about these issues and taking action to help children in need.


Black Lives Matter- We Stand in Solidarity

The inhumane and senseless murder of Mr. George Floyd and the many others who have gone before him provide a painful reminder of the racial injustices that pervade American life. Staff and volunteers at CASA programs know this too well. The higher rates of incarceration, poverty, and unemployment, and the poorer health outcomes among Blacks manifest themselves in disproportional representation of Black children in the child welfare system. 


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This brief takes a comprehensive look at public spending on children from birth through age 18 in New Jersey between 1998 and 2016.  Drawing on the Urban Institute’s new State-by-State Spending on Kids Dataset, the brief finds public spending per child is higher in New Jersey than in many other states, driven by state investments in public education. It also finds that New Jersey children receive less federal support per child than the average American child. The analysis suggests steps that New Jersey policymakers and advocates can take to increase uptake of federal programs and tax credits.

This brief takes a comprehensive look at public spending on children from birth through age 18 in New Jersey between 1998 and 2016.  Drawing on the Urban Institute’s new State-by-State Spending on Kids Dataset, the brief finds public spending per child is higher in New Jersey than in many other states, driven by state investments in public education. It also finds that New Jersey children receive less federal support per child than the average American child. The analysis suggests steps that New Jersey policymakers and advocates can take to increase uptake of federal programs and tax credits.

More than a century of public policies and institutional practices have built a system of separate and unequal schools and neighborhoods in the US. That system has been sustained by the choices white people make about where to live and send their children to school.

Policymakers who want to advance neighborhood and school integration need to better understand these choices to design initiatives that influence white families to make more prointegrative choices. Doing so could produce more diverse neighborhoods and schools in the near term and expand white people’s support for more structural reforms to dismantle the separate and unequal system over the long term. But understanding why white people make the choices they do—many of which go against their expressed values—and how to change them will require better evidence.

We suggest four areas for research that could accelerate potential solutions aimed at influencing white people’s choices and dismantling the system of separate and unequal neighborhoods and schools built over generations:

Measure the long-term impacts for white people of attending integrated schools. Efforts aimed at encouraging white families to choose more diverse neighborhoods and schools would benefit from evidence documenting the circumstances under which integrated schools produce better long-term outcomes for students. New research could take a long-term perspective and examine the kinds of outcomes white parents can expect their children to achieve if they attend integrated schools.
Develop better measures of school quality. Encouraging families to choose high-quality diverse schools will require better measures of school quality that are less likely to confound school quality with the effects of structural racism, as many test-based measures currently do. Research could develop more differentiated measures of school quality that provide families with information about how students from their socioeconomic group fare.
Identify and analyze stable neighborhood and school integration. Local planners and school administrators need to know what actions they could take to expand the supply of stably integrated neighborhoods and schools. A rigorous collection of in-depth case studies focused on census tracts and schools that have achieved and maintained stable integration, particularly the integration of white people with Black people, could help fill this knowledge gap.
Estimate the potential effectiveness of different mortgage financing incentives. One avenue for promoting integration is enticing homebuyers to consider diverse neighborhoods. But we know little about whether incentives like down payment assistance or below-market interest rates would induce homebuyers to choose neighborhoods in which their race or ethnicity does not predominate. One strategy for filling these knowledge gaps would be to launch a pilot program, testing the effectiveness of alternative incentive packages under different market conditions.

Changing white people’s behavior alone cannot dismantle segregation, but meaningful and sustainable neighborhood and school integration is unlikely to be achieved without changing white people’s choices. Changing white people’s choices could contribute to a larger portfolio of tools for dismantling today’s system of separate and unequal neighborhoods and schools. Filling the knowledge gaps we have identified would be an important step in that direction.

Since 2012, the Promise Heights Promise Neighborhood initiative has offered a rich set of services to the Upton and Druid Heights neighborhoods on Baltimore’s west side as part of the US Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative. Using a cradle-to-career model, Promise Heights focuses on improving the developmental, educational, health, and career outcomes of families who live in Upton and Druid Heights or whose children attend any of the five Promise Heights partner schools.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made Promise Heights’ work more challenging—and the needs of residents more pressing. When lockdowns began and Baltimore schools closed in mid-March 2020, Promise Heights, like many organizations, had to figure out how to continue delivering services and respond to the emergency. Promise Heights moved quickly, shifting its priorities to providing residents with emergency resources such as food, diapers, cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, rental assistance, computers, and internet hotspots. It also shifted all regular programming, in-school work, partner programming, collection of student data, and community outreach and events to online platforms while offering a limited number of socially distanced, in-person activities.

Promise Heights’ work in 2020 offers insights into how human service providers can adapt their school- and neighborhood-based services during this public health and economic crisis, including by

prioritizing meeting the most pressing needs of families even if they were previously outside the scope of the program;
adapting practices, offering flexibility, and rewarding creativity for staff; and
using social media to engage and share information.

Nationwide virtual event will take place at the start of National Foster Care Month in support of children and families

Nationwide virtual event will take place at the start of National Foster Care Month in support of children and families

Violence between current or former romantic partners, known as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a serious public health problem. It may involve sexual violence, stalking, physical violence, and/or psychological aggression. In families with young children, IPV exposure can adversely affect child mental health and social, physical, and cognitive development. By observing families in the home, home visitors are uniquely positioned to identify and support families experiencing violence and to improve IPV outcomes. The recent transition to virtual home visiting brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has introduced new challenges.

This brief synthesizes the research evidence to address the following questions:

How does IPV affect families?
What is home visiting's role in addressing IPV?
What are the challenges and opportunities of virtual home visiting?
How can home visitors safely screen for IPV during virtual visits?
How can home visitors support families experiencing IPV?

 

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.

America has built starkly unequal communities, systematically excluding Black people and other people of color from places rich with resources and opportunities, while depriving the communities in which they live from essential investments, services, and supports. Place-conscious initiatives—which put people at the center of strategies to restore disinvested communities—can help tackle these persistent challenges. In this brief, we pose five guiding principles for place-conscious strategies: (1) confront racism, (2) build resident voice and power, (3) work both horizontally and vertically, (4) plan for residential mobility, and (5) commit to accountability and continuous learning. We draw upon experience from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative to illustrate these principles, demonstrate what place-conscious work looks like in practice, and acknowledge inherent challenges and tensions.

For children, no other insurer has equaled Medicaid’s comprehensive coverage and cost-sharing protections. But Medicaid also has important limitations, and the imperative to achieve racial and socioeconomic health equity demands structural changes to the program.

External Link:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2030646

Over seven years, local partnerships in Buffalo, New York, Columbus, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas, embarked on an initiative focused on high-poverty neighborhoods with long histories of economic disinvestment. The Family-Centered Community Change (FCCC) initiative, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, developed integrated services for communities—including education and care for children and job training and financial and employment services for adults—to help family members succeed together in a two-generation approach.

Strong partnerships are essential in two-generation community change initiatives, but they are not simple to create. Urban Institute researchers tracked the initiatives as the communities designed and implemented them. This report highlights lessons from the partnerships about collaborating, integrating services, and building strong partnerships.

All three community change initiatives exemplify both challenges to and markers of strong partnerships. These partnerships are dynamic and require careful planning and ongoing nurturing. Community change initiatives must treat cultivating the partnerships as critically as they treat the services themselves.

Generally, partnerships are stronger when funding is secure, partners feel invested in the work, leaders communicate a clear vision and direction, and staff understand each other’s contributions and roles. As the seven years showed—as has the time since the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed protests for racial justice began—broader systemic and contextual factors will always be at play and part of the inevitable landscape community partnerships must navigate.

The report discusses takeaways for strong partnerships in two-generation community change initiatives.

Prioritize family and community partners. FCCC, by its very name, aims to be family centered. One way to center families is to include them as partners with shared design authority. None of the FCCC partnerships implemented such a body, even though FCCC community members were intimately aware of conditions that made it difficult to pursue goals that could benefit themselves and their families—such as lack of child care options, inadequate transportation, predatory lending practices, and limited affordable rental housing. Solutions to these challenges were not always front and center in the FCCC programming. Including family members in the initiatives’ designs may have spurred greater focus on tackling structural barriers to community challenges.
Foster a culture conducive to partnerships. Partner integration often involves sharing and relinquishing money, authority, ideas, acclaim, and habits for the larger initiative’s cause. To foster a culture conducive to partnerships, organizations should enter these arrangements ready to acknowledge likely constraints and prepared and willing to compromise and navigate these areas including addressing schedule constraints and duplicate services among different partners.
Invest in a shared vision and empower leaders. Strong service partners share a common vision and goal and adopt the same guiding principles for the initiative. A strong shared vision can be strengthened by initiative leaders who also have high-level authority within their organizations, especially for fostering community and cross-organizational partnerships. Consistent leadership is also vital to establishing a shared vision, though turnover and transitions did happen in FCCC. Shared vision and empowered leadership can strengthen the partnerships and solidify organizational ties even through anticipated turnover and transitions.
Create effective communication mechanisms. Good communication including clear mechanisms for feedback loops between frontline staff and leadership is essential to moving from decision-making on a case-by-case basis to identifying more permanent solutions to common challenges and instituting procedures, policies, or practices that change the overall system of care for all families.
Build data-sharing capacity and infrastructure early. Communities undertaking similar initiatives would benefit from thinking about data tracking and data collection requirements for all partners early on and prioritizing shared data capacity. Someone needs to lead the data sharing and coordinate effective strategies that make sense within the range of services offered and partners’ legacy tracking systems. And partnerships need to guide frontline staff on how to best use data resources to inform their work while ensuring the content and format of the information is accessible and actionable.
Build partnerships that last decades, not only for the life of the grant. Thinking toward sustainability early can help initiatives maintain momentum while recognizing that partnerships may change and evolve over the years. The most considerable sustainability challenge is often securing funding and other resources to continue and build on the work. But it also involves aligning continued work with organizational missions and policy-level priorities. Trust allows organizations to have confidence in partners to stay the course and work through new challenges as they arise to plan together and count on each other to continue the shared work.

If a parent works full time and earns $30,000 per year, can the family receive a subsidy to help pay for child care? If the family does qualify for a subsidy, how much will they have to pay out of pocket? The answers to these questions depend on a family’s exact circumstances, including:

the ages of the children
the number of people in the family
income
where they live

Child care subsidies are provided through a federal block grant program called the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). CCDF provides funding to the States, Territories, and Tribes. They use the money to administer child care subsidy programs for low-income working families.

This brief serves as a companion piece to the report “Key Cross-State Variations in CCDF Policies as of October 1, 2019”, providing a graphical overview of some of the policy differences across States/Territories.  The information in the report comes from the CCDF Policies Database.  Additional reports and the full database detail can be accessed at https://ccdf.urban.org.

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