Child Advocates of Placer County

aka Placer CASA   |   Roseville, CA   |  www.casaplacer.org

Mission

The mission of Child Advocates of Placer County is to be the bridge between the most vulnerable in our community and caring volunteers who want to make a difference.

Ruling year info

2004

Executive Director

Mr. Don Kleinfelder

Main address

1430 Blue Oaks Blvd., Suite 260

Roseville, CA 95747 USA

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EIN

77-0620948

NTEE code info

Adult, Child Matching Programs (O30)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Family Services (P40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The problem we are trying to solve is this: How do we help foster children and at-risk youth find permanent homes, attain educational success, and successfully transition into adulthood? "Risk factors" for these youth usually include a lack of family involvement, poverty, exposure to violence, and mental illness. In contrast, "protective factors" are supports that buffer young people from the many risk factors they face. Studies show that "connectedness to family or adults outside the family" is a significant protective factor for at-risk youth. Since the youth we serve typically have little or no family support, our CASAs and Mentors become significant protective factors. The problem our Family Mentor and Prosper Placer programs strive to solve is "How do we best help struggling parents and families create emotionally and financially stable homes for the youth." As such, these programs are part of our "Whole Family Approach" to serving the children in our county.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Child Advocates of Placer County

Child Advocates of Placer County received its 501(c)3 non-profit status in March 2004. We serve our community through several volunteer-driven programs:

1) Placer CASA: The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program strives to prevent abused, neglected, abandoned, and at-risk children from becoming lost in the overburdened juvenile court system. CASAs are sworn Officers of the Court, and in essence are the "eyes and ears of the judge, and the voice of the child” in juvenile dependency proceedings. CASA volunteers also mentor the youth they serve, often building long-term relationships with the youth.

2) BE BOLD Youth Services: Children ages 9-17 run a greater risk of being sexually exploited and becoming involved in delinquent behaviors. Our BE BOLD Program identifies and works with at-risk youth to empower them to make healthier and safer decisions.

3) Family Mentors: A Family Mentor helps parents develop a variety of life skills surrounding sobriety, budgeting, organization, parenting, health, nutrition, education, career and successful job search.

4) Prosper Placer: Through participation in Placer Prosper, families are matched with volunteers who help them gain the knowledge, skills, and support they need to transform their lives.
These programs all reflect our Mission Statement: Child Advocates of Placer County is a bridge between the most vulnerable in our community and volunteers who make a difference.

5) K9s 4 Kids: The K9s 4 Kids Program gives children who are experiencing trauma a chance to love and be loved by a trained therapy dog and experience normalcy in a stressful environment.

Our goals are to ensure that foster youth are placed in permanent homes (ideally through reunification with their families), that all of our youth attain educational success, and that families develop life skills that will help them reach financial stability and ensure that their children will not enter, or re-enter, the child welfare system.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Families

Our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program utilizes trained volunteers to serve foster children (i.e., children who are temporarily “dependents of the court”). CASA volunteers operate under an order from the court, signed by the judge, that gives them sweeping powers to investigate on behalf of the judge and advocate on behalf of the youth. As such, they are often referred to as “the eyes and ears of the judge and the voice of the child in Dependency Court proceedings.”

CASA volunteers are assigned to foster children (ages 0 to 18) through a court order, which permits
the CASA volunteer to meet with a foster child and report to a judge on four components:

1) INVESTIGATION - Reviewing the child’s situation and needs,
2) FACILITATION - Identifying resources and services for the child,
3) ADVOCACY - Communicating the child’s wishes, best interests and unmet needs to the court, and
4) MONITORING - Ensuring that court orders are carried out.

CASA volunteers meet weekly with their assigned foster youth, conduct interviews with associated
parties (parents, social workers, teachers, service providers, etc.), review court documents, and
(with our assistance) develop court reports stating the child’s situation, the child’s wishes, and
recommendations for court actions that are in the child’s best interests. Our goal is to help return
these children safely to their parents, or barring that, to help place them in permanent homes with
“forever families” through adoption or guardianship.

In 2015, at the request of our Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Colleen Nichols, we began assigning CASAs to youth who have been arrested and are on probation or are in the Juvenile Detention Facility (JDF). Over the last twelve months, we have assigned CASAs to 26 probation youth. This program has significant room to grow, limited only by the number of CASA volunteers who are willing to work with these youth.

Lastly, in 2018 we began working with Placer County Probation to assign specially trained CASAs to youth who have been victims of sex trafficking, identified as Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). CASAs that serve CSEC youth work in collaboration with Placer County Probation, Child Welfare, and the Office of Education to help the youth find pathways out of sex trafficking. CSEC CASAs meet several times a week with the girls involved in trafficking in an effort to establish a bond before the girls run again. In addition to one-on-one meetings, the CASAs and CSEC youth also meet in small peer support groups. With this network of support, we hope the girls will know that there is a safe passage out when they are ready.

In 2020:
• We trained 96 new CASA volunteers.
• Combined with our existing volunteers, we provided CASA volunteers to 322 children in foster care and 29 youth involved in juvenile delinquency. We also provided CASAs and Mentors to 38 youth involved in or at risk of involvement in sex trafficking.
Altogether we provided CASAs to about 90% of all foster children in Placer County.

In 2020 we also closed 132 foster child cases, of which 106 closed through reunification, adoption, or guardianship (80%). Fifteen youth aged-out of the system, of which three stayed with our program (and their CASA) as a Non-Minor Dependents. Several other aged-out youth have maintained informal relationships with their CASA.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
At-risk youth

In 2011 we created a third program, Family Mentors. Funded in large part by Placer First 5, Family Mentors work one-on-one with parents who are striving to rebuild their families. These parents are either working toward reunifying with their children who are in the child welfare system, or are recovering from drug abuse or domestic violence and are at-risk of having their children enter the child welfare system. These parents typically lack basic life skills and struggle with issues around health, education, housing, employment and transportation. They often see themselves as at “rock-bottom” and often have little hope of climbing out of the deep hole they find themselves in.

A Family Mentor meets weekly with a parent, one-on-one, at the parent’s home. Together, they work on basic life skills – sometimes as simple as getting your child ready and off to school on time or learning how to shop for and cook meals. At the same time, the Family Mentor helps the parent identify barriers in their lives, and together they set goals to overcome the obstacles. But perhaps most importantly, Family Mentors become role models and friends, helping parents gain access to resources and the larger community in which they live. As one parent claimed, “My Family Mentor introduced me to people I never dreamed I’d meet – I was always so shy and embarrassed about my past. She helped me gain so much confidence!”

In 2019 we provided Family Mentors to 48 families. Of these, we closed 27 cases, with 25 of them because they successfully reunified with their children, or moved out of transitional housing (for drug treatment or domestic violence). Only two of the mothers relapsed into drug abuse and quit the program.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people

Prosper Placer is our newest program, and as a collaboration with local area churches, connects community volunteers with families who are striving to move out of poverty. We assign two to three volunteer “Allies” to each family (called “Change Leaders”). The Allies share their knowledge, connections, and friendship with families who are striving to gain financial independence. In the process, the family gains the knowledge, skills, and support they need to transform their lives, and together create an intentional community of support. This program is often the next step for parents who have completed our Family Mentor program, and to date three parents in our Family Mentor program have “graduated” into Prosper Placer and another six are set for our next cohort.

The churches currently collaborating with us on Prosper Placer include:

• Auburn Cohort: Pioneer Methodist Church (the cohort site), First United Methodist, United Methodist, St. Teresa's Catholic Church, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Auburn Grace, Faith Lutheran Church, and the Salvation Army.

• Rocklin Cohort: launched in April 2019: St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (the cohort site), St. Rose Catholic Church (Roseville), and Roseville Methodist Church.

In 2019 26 families and 55 volunteer "Allies" participated in Prosper Placer.

Starting in July 2020, our Prosper Parcel began a partnership with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) to provide assistance our Latinx populations within Prosper Placer.

Population(s) Served
Families
Economically disadvantaged people

This small program combines a therapy dog with a handler and CASA volunteer. Together, they make weekly visits with youth at the Juvenile Detention Facility, with youth at the emergency children’s shelter, and with families at Acres of Hope. We currently have six dogs rotating through the visits and two dogs going through the certification process.

At a recent visit at the Juvenile Detention Center, volunteer handler, Scott Mueller, felt compelled to recap Bailey’s visit (Bailey is pictured to the right). Here is what Scott had to share: As Bailey was running in, the child also ran and sat in front of him (Bailey). “This is an emotional moment for me,” the child said to Bailey. While both of Bailey’s paws remained on of the child’s arms, the child went on to say, “I’m leaving this week. I’m going to a group home, do you go there?” With Bailey’s paws still on the child’s arms, Bailey listened intently as the child told him “I’m going to get a golden retriever when I get a dog.” Bailey’s look and demeanor became serious as he proceeded to lick the child. “Maybe I’ll start a business taking care of dogs.” As Scott and Bailey were leaving to visit another unit, the child had a few last words for Bailey, “I’m going to miss you!”

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Incarcerated people

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

National CASA 2020

California CASA Association 2020

Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc 2020

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The goals of our CASA and Youth Mentor programs are to help youth:

- Find permanent homes through reunification with their families or adoption ( for foster youth),
- Develop life-long connections within their own communities,
- Avoid drug and/or alcohol use, teen pregnancy, and the juvenile justice system,
- Increase their educational successes, grade promotions and high school graduation,
- Discover new life options and employment opportunities that will help them see their own potential and develop into successful, contributing adults.

The goals of the Family Mentor program are:

• To prevent children from entering or re-entering the child welfare system.
• To help parents become more independent and self-sufficient.
• To help parents achieve their goals and identify healthy, viable community resources.
• To provide emotional and social stability to the child and the child’s family.

The goal of Prosper Placer is to help low income families address poverty at its holistic core —social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial – through education, goal setting, connection to opportunities and advocating for needed services that are absent within the community. Ultimately, our goal is that within two years the families will attain 150% of the poverty level within Placer County.

All of our programs are volunteer driven. In 2020 over 300 community members volunteered in our programs, and on average a volunteer stays with our program for 27.4 months. To replace volunteers who move on and to grow our programs, we plan to train 100 new volunteers in 2021 and match new and existing volunteers with about 300 foster children, 30 delinquency youth, and 50 youth involved in the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). We will also also assign Family Mentors to 50 parents and Allies to 30 Prosper Placer families.

CASA volunteers meet weekly with their assigned foster youth, conduct interviews with associated parties (parents, social workers, teachers, service providers, etc.), review court documents, and (with our assistance) develop court reports stating the child’s situation, the child’s wishes, and recommendations for court actions that are in the child’s best interests. Our goal is to help return these children safely to their parents, or barring that, to help place them in permanent homes with “forever families” through adoption or guardianship.

Since 2015 we have also assigned CASAs to youth in the juvenile justice system (Delinquency Court). These CASAs help the youth successfully complete the terms of their probation, and work with them to increase their accountability for their actions, actively engage in school, and develop stronger independent living skills.

CASAs who work with CSEC ("sex trafficking") youth meet one-on-one several times a week to form a bond, and also join them in regular peer groups, where the youth are able to establish a safe, intentional community of support. With this network of support, we hope the girls will follow a safe passage out of trafficking and transition into a new life.

Family Mentors meet weekly with a parent, one-on-one, at the parent’s home. Together, they work on basic life skills – sometimes as simple as getting your child ready and off to school on time or learning how to shop for and cook meals. At the same time, the Family Mentor helps the parent identify barriers in their lives, and together they set goals to overcome the obstacles. But perhaps most importantly, Family Mentors become role models and friends, helping parents gain access to resources and the larger community in which they live.

In Prosper Placer, participating families and volunteers attend weekly “Learning Exchanges”. In this highly participatory curriculum, participants investigate behaviors that may be preventing them from experiencing wellness and leading a financially secure life. They also explore new opportunities to improve their quality of life through education, job training, and lifestyle changes. Participants learn about personal responsibility, relationship building, communication and goal setting. The work of Prosper Placer transforms lives, builds a stronger and healthier community, and cultivates a sense of pride and independence among those who participate.

Our CASA volunteers are assigned to foster youth by a judge through court orders. The court order allows CASAs to meet weekly with their assigned foster youth, conduct interviews with associated parties (parents, social workers, teachers, etc.), review court documents, and (with our assistance) develop court reports stating the child's situation, the child's wishes, and recommendations for court actions that are in the child's best interests. Our goal is to help place these children in permanent homes.

All of our volunteers are trained as both mentors and CASA volunteers, and as such, become sworn officers of the Placer County court. This allows them to switch roles as the circumstances of their youth changes.

Since our inception in 2004, we have trained 1,011 CASA volunteers who have worked with over 2,300 foster and at-risk youth.

Our Family Mentor program, which was launched in 2010, has provided family mentors to several hundred families, and our Prosper Placer program is preparing to launch its ninth cohort in late 2021.

In FY 2020-21 (July-June) we assigned CASAs to 322 foster children - an increase of 86 children (36%) over the previous year. We attribute this increase to the effects of COVID, which caused a spike in cases in late summer 2020, and again in early summer 2021.

In FY 20-21 we also assigned CASAs to 29 probation youth – a decrease of 15 youth over the previous year. This decrease reflected our focus on serving foster youth first.

Of these 351 youth, 21 were identified by Placer County Probation and Child Welfare as being involved in or at risk of involvement in sex trafficking, and these girls were provided specially trained CASAs through our BE BOLD program. Our County also referred an additional 17 female youth who were not in any court system but were considered at-risk of being involved in sex trafficking, and we provided them with CASA-trained mentors (i.e., CASAs without a court order, since the girls were not in the court system).

During FY 2020-21 we also provided Family Mentors to 40 parents, and another 29 parents participated in our Prosper Placer program. Altogether we directly impacted 446 individuals, a 22% increase over 2019-20.

Despite the difficulties of 2020, Child Advocates of Placer County has flourished.

In the summer of 2019 we saw a 25% increase in the number of children detained by Child Welfare. We met this need through an increase in marketing and the utilization of an online training platform, which allowed us to train 94 new CASA volunteers in 2020 - 22% more than 2019. By October 1, 2020 we were serving 94% of all youth referred to us by the court.

We also found creative methods for our CASAs to interact with their youth in a meaningful way despite the 2019 ban on in-person visits, and in February 2021, CASA volunteers were deemed essential workers, allowing them (and our staff) to be vaccinated.

But what we are most proud of is our continuing ability to provide a "Whole Family Approach" to preventing child abuse and neglect - something that more and more agencies are seeing as a best practice. As such, Child Advocates of Placer County now has two divisions:

1) Youth Services, which includes CASA, Be Bold, Level UP (CASA in Delinquency Court), K9s 4 Kids and the Independent Living Program for transition-age foster youth (a collaboration with the Placer County Office of Education), and

2) Family Services, which includes Family Mentors, Prosper Placer, Immigration Advocacy, and most recently, the Parent Empowerment Group (PEG) - a collaboration with the Children's System of Care, wherein we assign volunteer mentors to parents who have just had their children detained by child welfare. The goal of PEG is to help parents understand the reunification process and hasten their success.

By enhancing CASA with our "Whole Family Approach", we hope to ensure the long-term success of our children and achieve our vision of breaking the cycle of generational child abuse, neglect and poverty.

Financials

Child Advocates of Placer County
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Child Advocates of Placer County

Board of directors
as of 8/24/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Melissa Garner

USI Insurance Services

Term: 2019 - 2022

Stephanie Hays

Board Secretary, Enchanted Images Photography, small business owner

Melissa Garner

Vice President, Employee Benefits Operations Manager USI Insurance Services

Doug MacFarlane

Director, Private Wealth Mgt. Robert W. Baird & Co.

Yvonne Pire

Owner and CEO of Trofholz Technologies

Ken Klein

President and CEO, CKM Staffing

Doug Van Order

Managing Partner, TierOne Financial and Insurance Services

Dena Kaufer

Asst. Buyer, UNFI Rocklin (retired)

Josh Price

Board Treasurer, Principal, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Tracy Whipple

National Account Executive Freddie Mac

Jenn Allen

Director of Customer Delivery for SLED-West, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Brandon Contreras

Director, Microsoft Go-To-Market Lead, Commercial, Adobe

Shane Knighton

SVP Business and Financial Services, Golden 1 Credit Union

Kris Kroening

Director, Services Sales SLED West Area, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Jacqueline Strinden

Area Quality Leader & Patient Safety Officer – Kaiser Permanente

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 08/24/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data