SILVER2022

CASA of Los Angeles

aka CASA of Los Angeles   |   Monterey Park, CA   |  www.casala.org

Mission

CASA of Los Angeles' mission is to organize the community to take action and advocate for children and families in LA County’s overburdened child welfare and juvenile justice systems. CASA's vision is a Los Angeles in which all children and families impacted by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems have equitable access to the resources and support they need to thrive.

Notes from the nonprofit

Our Values: Deep Love - We have deep love for the children and families in the child welfare system and for our staff and volunteers. Deep love is the glue that holds CASA/LA together. Justice - We work towards justice for children and families and for improved systems that increase access to justice. Authenticity & Integrity - We are committed to our values and acknowledge power structures and bias. Accountability - We strive for professionalism, collaboration, and the honest measurement and reporting of our outcomes. Respect - We treat everyone with respect and work to deserve the respect of all our partners.

Ruling year info

1989

Chief Executive Officer

Charity Chandler-Cole

Main address

201 Centre Plaza Drive, Room 1100

Monterey Park, CA 91754 USA

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Formerly known as

Friends of Child Advocates

EIN

95-3890446

NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Human Service Organizations (P20)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Nowhere in the nation is the problem greater than in Los Angeles County, where 30,000 children who have been abused or neglected are under the jurisdiction of the Dependency Court. One-third of these children are age 0-5; infants and toddlers are the fastest growing group of abused children. CASA/LA provided one-on-one advocacy to 1,124 children in FY2018, in addition to 3,276 children with day-of-court assistance through Shelter Care.

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?

Advocacy

Serving children and youth in the LA County child dependency system.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Non-adult children

Where we work

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.

For years, CASA/LA has worked to increase the number of children we serve, not just because we wanted to reach a certain number, but also because the children in LA County’s child welfare system are in desperate need of the support and care that CASA volunteers provide. And there was one primary reason we were driven to conquer that dream: helping children heal from trauma. Children in LA County’s child welfare system experience trauma over and over again, and as science has shown, trauma doesn’t end in childhood. It has life-long physical and mental health implications. It isn’t just about supporting a child today, but about changing their trajectory to support the adult they will become tomorrow.

The sad truth is, most children served by CASA/LA first experienced trauma in their own homes and at the hands of their parents—the place they should be most safe. It’s why they entered the child welfare system initially. But then, these children and youth are torn from their homes, and far, far too often continue to experience trauma in the foster care system. They continue to experience abuse and neglect, they experience broken relationship after broken relationship. They end up in a system that some can’t escape, and the consequences are dire.

CASA/LA alleviates the feelings of abandonment and alienation that scar these young lives by harnessing the compassion and generosity of caring adults who can and do have an enormous impact on the development of the child at all ages. The genius of the CASA model is that it effectively capitalizes on a huge reservoir of caring by mobilizing it in service to children. CASA makes the crucial connection—one caring adult to one child in need—that can be the turning point in a life that has been disrupted. Our most significant accomplishments happen every day—when an overlooked opportunity is found, a service is secured or an adult connection is made that will help to keep a child safe and give him or her an opportunity to succeed in life.

The volunteers get to know the children and their circumstances, show them that someone cares, advocate for their best interests (including making recommendations to the Court), encourage them to grow to their fullest potential, and become involved in key issues in their life, especially permanent placement, and school, health, and mental health issues.

A CASA volunteer is often the sole consistent adult anchor for foster children. Children frequently remark how important it is to them that these tireless advocates are the only people in “the system” who are not paid to assist them. CASA volunteers give a voice to a child who cannot speak up for herself or himself and are frequently viewed as mentors or guides.

CASA’s Early Childhood Initiative advances our commitment to help children ages 0-5. In Los Angeles County, 35% of the children entering foster care are ages 0-5 (19% are under 24 months).

Through the Early Childhood Training program, developed in partnership with the Child Development Institute, our volunteers gain a sophisticated understanding of early childhood development, which they bring into every interaction they have with the child, the family, foster family, or other caregivers. Their training includes recognizing developmental milestones and possible delays exhibited by the children, like the loss of speech, or lack of facial expressions or social skills. CASAs also learn about protective factors that strengthen families (e.g., whether the parent has social supports) and help them deal more effectively with stressful events. Historically, a thorough understanding of early childhood development has been missing from the dependency court system, not only in Los Angeles, the largest such system in the country, but in many other jurisdictions as well. Therefore, the knowledge gained from this specialized training significantly aids in discussions with all the adults in the child’s life, including parents, caregivers, social workers, attorneys, teachers and school administrators, and is reflected in recommendations made to the judge on behalf of the child.

The Early Childhood Training helps CASAs use a developmental lens to assess the child’s situation, which helps the Court and concerned adults better understand the young child’s needs to achieve physical, emotional, and attachment development. As the unique developmental needs of the child are recognized earlier, interventions happen sooner, and more children achieve permanency successfully.

For many youth, the long-term effects of trauma, neglect, and abuse incur significant mental health consequences. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.” Abused and neglected children in the dependency system are among Los Angeles County’s most at risk, with almost 70 percent of children in foster care exhibiting moderate to severe mental health problems, and approximately 50 percent diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder. However, only 23 percent of children who are in foster care for at least 12 months received mental health services. That is why one of the principal goals of all CASAs working with children and youth in protective care is to ensure that proper mental health assessments and services are provided for each child they serve.

During the last fiscal year, CASA/LA served 1,124 unique children (18% more than in FY2017 and 39% more than in FY2016), we received 647 case referrals (9% more than in FY2017 and 38% more than in FY2016), we trained 402 new CASA volunteers (25% more than FY2017 and 100% more than FY2016), and appointed 931 unique volunteers (an increase of 25% from FY 2017 and 67% from FY2016). We conquered big dreams. As you will see in the following pages, the numbers are just the beginning, our CASA volunteers enhanced the lives of the children they served by improving youth outcomes around safety, permanency, and well-being, they reduced the number of placements per child from 4 to 1.7 every year, and they helped to significantly reduce the number of youth on psychotropic medications.

Financials

CASA of Los Angeles
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Operations

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

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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CASA of Los Angeles

Board of directors
as of 01/04/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Lori Kozak

Steve Carlston

Ed Nahmias

Lori Kozak

Frank Addante

Alicia Anderson

Judy Beckmen

Steve Bloom

Terri Durham

Bruce Herron

Jennifer Hinman

Jason Levin

Lynn McKenzie

Allyson Pfeifer

Debbie Ravden

Dayna Rodriguez

AJ Safavi

George Sapp

Neil Selman

Thomas Smith

Thomas Turner

Dawn Goodman

Jean Youngquist

Harriet Zaretsky

Erica Mangham

Doug Anderson

Johna Rivers

Michelle Swanenburg