July 13th 2020 Virtual Meeting Summary Notes CASA DHS Leadership

July 27th 1:00 ZOOM Dialogue:  Reflections from our Community Foundation & United Way colleagues  
What We Have Supported/ Learned/What we see ahead 

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Jefferson e Funders Forum
July 13th 2020 1:00 pm
Virtual ZOOM Round Up

Jefferson Funders Forum brings together public and private philanthropic leadership to share information, perspectives and experiences; cooperatively explore and leverage resources to positively impact communities in southern Oregon and northern California.

Levels of Engagement: I. Communication and Information Sharing; II. Learning Together; III. Planning for Collective & Collaborative Action IV. Action

ZOOM Facilitator – Jennifer Staton, Gordon Elwood Foundation 

  1. Zoom Participants Included: Lilia Caballero, Kathy Bryon, Larry Nicholson & Jennifer Staton, Gordon Elwood Foundation;  Jen Shafer, United Way of SW Oregon; Matt Epstein, Epstein Family Foundation; Sara Stephens, South Coast Early Learning Hub; Steve Vincent, Avista; Pam Marsh, District 5 Oregon House of  Representatives; Marie Simonds, Wild Rivers Coast Alliance; Laura Olson, Smullin Family Foundation; Patrick Hosfield, Oregon Community Foundation; Angela Durant, City of Medford Planning Department; Sam Engel, AllCare; Greg Dalton, Program Director, CASA of Coos County; Christine Slette- Executive Director, CASA Del Norte County; Jennifer Mylenek, Executive Director, CASA of Jackson & Josephine Counties; KimberLee Whitney, DHS, Jackson & Josephine Counties; Karri Mirande, Executive Director, CASA for Children of Klamath County

 I. Communication & Information Sharing: Everyone

Check-In: A word that reminds you of your childhood summer: Heat; Lighting Bugs; Family; Swimming; Beach; Active; Humidity; Water Activities; Apples; Reptiles/heat; Spectacular; Woods; accomplishments-graduation; Watermelon; Crawdads; Joy; Treehouses; River; 

II.  Learning Together and Dialogue: Court Appointed Special Advocate and Department of Human Services Realities, Response, and Reshaping in the time of COVID-19. 

A Special Thanks to our guests who have generously offered to share their experience & perspectives with us today:

Greg Dalton, Program Director, CASA of Coos County
Greg’s office has been connecting with all their volunteers regularly to encourage their volunteers to connect more and in different ways with the children they represent. 

During a recent Oregon CASA Network meeting the board announced that over $1.7 million has been lost from fundraising because of COVID and there are issues of sustainability of CASA offices. 

Curry CASA, which has been under the leadership of the Douglas County CASA was closed in February to instead run the program virtually. Curry volunteers nor Judges were informed before the office was closed and longtime director released to reduce costs. Unfortunately, the direct consequence of the interim executive’s action has been the absence of volunteers for the children in Curry, which was further complicated by COVID that changed the Court set up in Mid-March. 

Greg has been working with the Douglas CASA and Oregon Community Action, his umbrella organization to become the umbrella for Curry County. 

Judges are very clear about their need for CASA volunteers, their notes are critical particularly now as they do many of the hearing by phone and have no ability to know what is going on for the child whose case is before them. 

Judges are charged with graduating the CASA volunteers and Greg has two groups currently waiting to be appointed. 

Christine Slette, Executive Director, CASA Del Norte County
Christine had been working remotely before the COVID shutdown due to size and geographic scope of her CASA territory. Because of this, the COVID transition worked pretty well for her staff and volunteers. 

Staff time is focused on volunteer engagement. Volunteers have focused on the education and health needs of their cases that are not being met because of the additional stress on the foster parents. 

Teens are not comfortable with ZOOM meetings with their CASA volunteers due to lack of privacy in their foster homes. 

Small children don’t do well on ZOOM so the CASAs try to meet families at beaches for one on one time. Each case is of course very different and needs are dependent on each child’s situation, age, case etc. Information/homework from school comes on a bus for those who are not on broadband/wifi, but foster parents aren’t getting support for homework, so she has been working out arrangements with youth organizations to work with kids on their homework. 

Court Calls for each case are $54 per call until the Court reopens. 

Zoom has been a lifesaver. Christine has actually gotten more volunteers and provided more training through the online zoom system. She has also been able to do board training on zoom and judges have done swearing in on zoom. 

Tribal locations are closed so Tribal member wellness meetings are on hold. 

30-34% of her CASA caseload are Native American, making volunteer support for children problematic.

She just had 6 new volunteers swore in, usually she has 1 or 2 at a time. 

Their office is currently supporting 27 children; 115 are on the waiting list. They take the most severe cases first. 

Jennifer Mylenek, Executive Director, CASA of Jackson & Josephine Counties
Their offices did apply and received PPP loan to maintain their staff in this time. The staff has been working triple time with CASAs since the system of interaction has been changing and the majority of CASAs are in the “at risk” age.  They have been encouraging their CASA volunteers to find ways to connect with their children, phone, zoom, drive by visits at the foster home. Shifts in program realities include: 

Jennifer’s office gave $4,000 in food vouchers to families in Jackson County.

Training new volunteers has been impacted by the physical distance/shelter in place recommendations for health and safety. 

They need to use WebX as the platform for video conferencing and it is not as user friendly as ZOOM. Therefore, they have to do a lot of pre training in computer. 

They also have to reduce the training number to half, which means only 13 new individuals will be going through the fall session online vs the usual number. 

They have lost 5-6 of their usual fundraisers starting in March, which is a significant impact to their budget. 

Only 8% of their budget is provided by State of Oregon funds, even though it is a Mandated Program. Fundraising from the community is critical. 

Concerns that CASA staff have:  Isolation of children from the usual mandatory reporters (teachers); Wondering about schools and when they open again how that will impact the reporting numbers that have been down overall. Cases have increased some, perhaps because people are out more in public. 

They are focused on sustainability right now vs planning for future expansion of programs and serving additional cases.  

KimberLee Whitney, DHS, Jackson & Josephine Counties
DHS has been sending out community reminder messaging about reporting child abuse. People have been pretty focused on the pandemic and their individual situations. With childcare options opening up this should increase reporting. 

Her office employs 600 people; 60% are working from home and it’s hard to get 100% working because of lack of broadband access. 

She has been working with Ja/Jo DHS for about a year; 30 years working in the nonprofit sector. 

Although there was a downturn in cases initially, there has been an uptick and cases have been more severe. Domestic violence cases are also up. 

Significant increase in number of cases related to drug and alcohol consumption; mental health/behavior health access challenges. 

One bright light has been better engagement of youth in behavioral health appointments/services because of the telemed option. Youth are more interactive than in live sessions.

Childcare system was impacted by the COVID shutdown process; most will not be opening due to the requirements that are beyond the capability of the childcare providers. This definitely impacts those parents that would be or want to be working. 

Foster parents are the unsung heroes during this time. They have had to step up to become the homeschooling teacher and be at home all the time without any respite. Selfcare as a foster parent has been a challenge. 

Karri Mirande, Executive Director, CASA for Children of Klamath County Karri’s office did receive PPP/COVID relief. The average age of her volunteers is 65-70 so they are all working remotely to reduce their risk of exposure. 

They have been using masks and social distancing when meeting with their cases. 

But because most of the volunteers do this kind of work to be connected to children, the social distancing is in some way responsible for some of the volunteers she has lost since March. 

She has been using creative marketing to recruit, training new volunteers on zoom.

A significant loss of funding locally because of closed businesses even $25-250 donors are having a hard time continuing to support. The largest fundraiser CASA BLANCA was planned to happen right as the close down happened. 

Biggest concern and unknown is what 2021 will look like.

As others have voiced, severity of violence is greater now.

She has 84 children being served by 35 advocates; there are 150-175 children in the foster system and in need of a CASA at any time in Klamath County.

Mary Ratliff, Project Coordinator, Protect Our Children Project, The Ford Family Foundation & Grant Writer, CASA for the Children of Klamath Falls
Please see below for follow-up email from Mary. 

Geneia Maupin, Klamath County DHS
Geneia’s office has also noted less reporting, most likely because of school closures. 

In June things usually change because children are home for summer vacation. 

In July, violence of abuse reported was more severe, summers generally have more severe cases historically.

Foster parents have been terrific in using ZOOM for their foster children, 100% compliance with her office. 

Early on she had conversations with the school districts/schools/coaches and used the DHS Self Sufficiency staff to check on families that were not in touch with the schools during the rest of the school year.

Her Self-Sufficiency staff helped support non-foster families with technology assistance and other community resources that could be of help to them. 

DHS Klamath sent out postcards about community services available to every household. 

Dialogue: What can be of help at this time beyond financial support, which is very clearly needed? 

  1. Promote CASA and ask people to get involved one way or another. Children need Advocates
  2. Volunteers are KEY-without them funding isn’t going to make the difference!
  3. Advocate with State for more than the current 8% of funding for this Mandated program. There is an equity issue on which parts of the state and which CASAs have the ability to raise the additional 92% of resources.
  4. Is there any way to have the schools more in touch with each child’s home situation to alert DHS?
    1. Conversations between nurses & teachers about children?
    2. Home visiting nurses and programs?
    3. Postcards going to each home using earlier example from presenters?
  5. Family Nurturing Center in Jackson/Josephine Counties created a referral list of needs for families
  6. Children in families that live “off the grid” are most at risk.
  7. “Ethical Reporters”-community members who see something going on with a child and report. First step is to call 911 or Police who are charged to follow the Karly’s Law. (See below from the Department of Justice website. 
  8. Mandatory Reporters are Teachers, Police, Healthcare workers 
  9. Medford School District is very strict on reporting and works hand and hand with the Medford Police Department.
  10. Any reported Child Abuse Case MUST be investigated per Karly’s Law. 
  11. The process is: 1. Hotline Call to 2. Law Enforcement to 3. DHS Child Welfare (foster situation may be set up) to 4. Court to 5. CASA to 6. CASA Advocate 


  1. Steve Vincent shared his recent meeting with a new childcare program for foster parents in Jackson County- Gingerbread Childcare, which has been stalled at the child care licensing board at the State office that is closed for COVID. Does Representative Marsh know when this might change? Rep Marsh will check with her colleagues. 

Other Comments: 

  • Virtual Court for CASA children requires access to wifi, in Coos County ORCA actually sets up more WiFi power so foster parents have access from the parking lot to connect with the Court. 
  • Reservations tend not to have access to WiFi so are unable to connect to Virtual Court. 
  • CASA’s aren’t equipped to offer WiFi capacity to families, not financially feasible for them to provide connectivity. But they provide lots of games and chrome books.

In Closing   

Jennifer Staton thanked today’s presenters. Her closing comment was “We all need to be Ethical Reporters for children.”

Karly’s Law

Karly’s Law is named after a 3-year-old Corvallis girl who died from abuse after allegations went unchecked. The law mandates that children in Oregon who exhibit suspicious physical injuries in the course of a child abuse investigation must receive medical attention within 48 hours. Since 2008, Karly’s Law has helped thousands of Oregon children receive medical care and support related to suspected abuse.

Karly’s Law imposes specific requirements on law enforcement, Department of Human Services (DHS) employees and designated medical providers who have received specialized training to assess injuries that may have been caused by child abuse.

Karly’s Law

Email Follow-up: Mary Ratliff, Project Coordinator, Protect Our Children Project, The Ford Family Foundation & Grant Writer, CASA for the Children of Klamath Falls

What an honor to listen in on the meeting today. I’ve long admired several of those CASA leaders! 

I thought of something after the call…..here’s some context: I write grants for one or two CASA programs each year as a part of my ‘heart work’ but my main gig is serving as the contracted Project Coordinator for The Ford Family Foundation’s Protect Our Children project. I support the 14 grant-funded sites and work closely with a site coordinator for each. I also sit with an informal group of others leading statewide child sexual abuse prevention initiatives. 

Similar to the leaders that you had on the call today, these individuals are working tirelessly to serve our most vulnerable populations. This remains true during these uncertain times. As I’ve been convening our cohort and meeting with other states recently, I am reminded of how ‘hungry’ service providers are to connect with each other. Over the years in Oregon I’ve noticed how sometimes social service providers tend to work in isolation. I’ve watched the Oregon CASA Network do a beautiful job of connecting CASA programs in the state and Protect Our Children has created a learning community that has been one of the most beneficial byproducts of the project. 

All of this to say, THANK you and more of this! Just creating the opportunity for these leaders and providers to connect, share information, and even collaborate when appropriate is essential. For YOU as funders to be so invested in their experience is beyond inspiring. I personally think that there is so much value in providing additional opportunities for them to connect with each other, not to mention ‘hearing’ them and responding accordingly. Their wisdom is immeasurable. I know that I learn something from EVERY conversation I have with any of them.

Thanks for indulging my opinion and admiration today and thank you for all that you do for children and families and communities in your regions!



P.S. Please share my sentiments with your team 😊

Notes respectfully submitted by Kathy Bryon & Jennifer Staton
Gordon Elwood Foundation