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CURRENT PROJECTS

Programs for Our Keiki

Where Your Money Goes & How it Helps!

Friends of CASA Hawaii (FOCH) sought grants and has collaborated with community programs to fund projects intended to bring normalcy and a little more happiness to the lives of our children in foster care. FOCH received funds from the Bretzlaff Foundation, Ticket to Dream/Mattress Firm Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation to fulfill its mission. The following is a list of projects funded by FOCH as of October 2018 and available to the CASA/GALs:

DRIVER'S EDUCATION

The Ticket to Dream Foundation awarded a grant to FOCH to assist with Independent Living and transitioning foster youth to adulthood. This grant specifically addresses transportation by providing opportunities for 25 young people, ages 16-21, to receive a driver’s education and ultimately get their driver’s license. Funds can be used to remove any barriers that prevents a foster youth from completing a driver’s education, including fees relating to the application process, driver’s permit, driver’s education, additional instructional driving time, and use of a vehicle to take the road test.

Funds are up to $600 per youth. In Hawaii, the average driver’s education program charges about $400. The surplus funds may be used to pay for additional behind the wheel driving time with an instructor, up to 16 hours.

A simple two-page form is available to the CASA/GAL.

PROJECT: BIRTHDAY SMILES

Birthdays are important to children, it’s a special day! Yet, we recognize that many children in foster care do not get to experience this celebration. Birthday Smiles seeks to create a little happiness for our children in foster care and assure that they will receive a personalized gift from their CASA advocate.
Birthday gifts should be personalized to the child and not generic, i.e. gift card. The gift should assist with further building rapport between the CASA and child.

Presents should be age-appropriate and valued around $25 per child; any gift over $50.00 needs approval from the Program Manager.

In addition to birthdays, Birthday Smile funds can also be used to honor other special occasions recognizing foster children’s accomplishments, i.e. graduations, guardianships, and adoptions.

THE BRIDGES PROJECT

Building a child’s sense of well-being should continue as the child transitions from foster custody to reunification with the child’s family. Oftentimes, enrichment/extra-curricular activities stop when a child is returned to parent’s home. Stressor relating to reunification and financial challenges for parents are major factors why these positive activities for the children abruptly discontinue. Bridges seek to (1) continue positive activities for a children when they return home from foster care; (2) assist parents with the transition period to a successful reunification, by relieving economic stressors.

Funds are available to help support children in their chosen activity for up to 6 months after reunification. This grace period will provide the family with time, to seek additional resources while supporting the adjustment period during reunification.

Funds will be available on a case by case basis, not to exceed $200 per child. Please consult with your CASA social worker.

SENIOR EXPERIENCE

High school, more importantly, your senior experience, are loaded with activities that could create lifetime memories. With little to no resources, our children in foster care generally do not fully participate in their senior class activities, needing to pick one or two and then forsaking many of the other activities. This project remedies this issue by supplementing the current enrichment funds with additional funds to assist with participation fees and costs. The Senior Experience project seeks to promote normalcy, increase the child’s sense of belonging and encouraging academic excellence and pursuing higher education/vocational arena.

Graduation is a significant milestone for our children in foster care. Part of the Senior experience is a Graduation Celebration to honor this accomplishment. The CASA program coordinates and hosts a graduation celebration which involves a festive luncheon with invited guests, judges, administrators, child advocates/supporters and a commendation presentation by the governor’s office.

Please let your CASA social worker know if the child you serve is entering his/her senior year.

CASA GIVER'S GAIN

The CASA Giver’s Gain is based on the concept of “paying it forward.” Foster children usually lack funds or resources to do something good for others. This project seeks to build a sense of responsibility and motivate foster children to set goals bettering oneself, accomplishing set goals, and in return, having the outcome benefit someone they care about.

CASA Giver’s Gain begins with an agreement by the child and the CASA. The CASA and child will set goals, draft a plan to achieve that goal with a timeline, and decide who will benefit from the child’s accomplishment. When the child completes the agreed-upon goal, the child will receive the promised benefit to the person the child has designated.

For example, a child who was doing well academically and enjoyed school wanted to be on the honor roll and was getting a “C” in science. She had a month left in the second quarter and Christmas was coming up. She talked about wanting to do something nice for her two siblings who were not placed with her. She set a goal to raise her Science grade from a “C” to a “B,” in return, the CASA program agreed to provide her with the means to pick up personalized Christmas gifts for her siblings. The CASA worked with the school and the child on a plan. She raised her grades and presented her siblings with Christmas a gift at one of their visits.

Giver’s Gain request must be submitted to the CASA program and approved by the CASA program manager.

HOLIDAY CELEBRATION

All foster children assigned to the CASA program receive an age-appropriate holiday gift. The program hosts a gifting blitz in December to fill the stocking of the children.

Please inform your CASA social worker as to the child’s wishes and interests.

GO PLAY & ENRICHMENT

Go Play and Enrichment Funds are available to promote well-being and build self-esteem for our children in foster care. Go Play funds supplement and help tackle financial barriers preventing foster children from exploring positive interests, hobbies and extra-curricular activities. Previous activities supported by these funds included registration fees for Summer Fun Program, paddles for canoeing, ukulele for a music enthusiast, shoes and equipment for sports, swimming lessons and camping. Funds are available on a case by case basis.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE OVER EDUCATIONAL STABILITY

This project is still under construction!! We are hopeful to have this program up and running in the Spring, 2019!

COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR CELL PHONE

This project is still under construction!! This will allow our children in foster care entering high school to have access to a cell phone while helping out their community. The project requires an agreement between resource caregivers, DHS social worker, CASA/GAL, and the young person outlining specific conditions tailored to each young person in lieu of a cell phone. Minimally, the youth must complete 3 hours of community service.

This project seeks to promote self-advocacy and accountability, paying it forward by volunteering in a program serving the community, and building a young person’s resume post high-school with volunteerism.

ABOUT FRIENDS OF CASA HAWAII

Friends of CASA – Hawaii is a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization:

A non-profit organization whose primary mission is to support the CASA Program in the recruitment, training, and supervision of community volunteers.  FOCH also provides resources that enhances the CASA’s opportunities to promote normalcy and well-being for children in foster care.

OUR GOALS:

  • To ensure that every child in Hawaii who needs a Court Appointed Special Advocate has one.
  • Raise awareness about the extent of child abuse and neglect in our state.
  • Educate the public about the serious negative impact that abuse and neglect has on children.
  • Encourage and support volunteers who are already trained as Court Appointed Special Advocates to remain active in the program by developing a retention plan and support network.
  • Develop plans to improve recruiting & retention and develop strategies to raise funds to better the lives of the children being served.
  • To support and fund projects and programs intended to improve the lives and wellbeing of children in foster care.

BOARD MEMBERS

Robin Kennedy

Keoni Vaughn

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