inside this edition:
ACEs and trauma
February volunteer Swearing in
Run for the children & more!
Welcome Volunteer Class of JFebruary 2017
ACEs in Trauma
Board Member Highlight
Message: Executive Director and Board Chair
Thank You Ace Hardware!
2017 FY Updates
Race for the Children
Table of Contents
Upcoming Info Sessions
Administrative, Marketing, and Events Associate
Message from the executive director
This is our first newsletter of 2017, a year that has certainly proven to be a bit raucous and overwhelming at times.
welcome to our newest staff member:
Welcome to our newest staff member Denisha! Denisha is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a degree in Global Affairs and minor in Non-Profit Studies. She has previously interned at the Newseum, USA TODAY, and the Department of Homeland Security, and previously worked at the American Society for Engineering Education. Denisha is the front line for our office, greeting visitors and answering phones, as well as managing social media and digital media and assisting with our events.
When she's not working, she enjoys writing horrible poetry and even worse prose, tennis, bad puns, drooling over good UX/UI design, and spending too many hours binge-watching Netflix. When you see her, be sure to say hello (and pass along your Netflix recommendations)!
With all that is going on in our country coupled with the ever present 24/7 news cycle, it is hard not to feel sucked into a black hole of negativity these days. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. However, I have found that focusing on CASA—what we do, the volunteers who give so much so we can do it, and the kids who continue to overcome—brings me a sense of peace and optimism.
As I sat down to write this letter to you, I looked up from my desk and reread the quote that I have hanging on my wall, from Rabbi Harold Kushner, “For me, the earthquake is not an act of God. The act of God is the courage of people to rebuild their lives after the earthquake and the rush of others to help them in whatever way they can.” I am surrounded by the “rush of others” here at CASA: The everyday heroes who give so much and never ask for anything in return. Knowing that over the years we have had over 1,700 of these “others” volunteer in our organization gives me great hope.
Whatever is happening in the world, I know that Fairfax CASA will continue to provide a light in the darkness and that our CASA heroes will continue to rush in to help, in whatever way they can.
Which nicely segues into my pitch for the 7th annual Run for the Children—our race that celebrates the everyday heroes here at CASA. Please consider signing up to run, walk or volunteer. Every dollar we raise through this event goes toward our core program expenses. This year, the race will be a full-fledged superhero run…so feel free to break out your favorite superhero costume and join us on April 29th at the Courthouse for this family friendly, fun and much anticipated race/walk.
Info and registration for the race can be found at www.fairfaxrunforthechildren.com
We hope to see you at the starting line (in your hero costume)!
Research has shown us that witnessing and experiencing traumatic events can lead to lifelong health and social issues.
Children who have experienced trauma can develop traumatic stress that in time can impact their physical and emotional health. Child traumatic stress is defined by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) as stress that “occurs when a child experiences an intense event that threatens or causes harm to his or her emotional and physical wellbeing.”
According to NCTSN, “Traumatic events have a profound sensory impact on young children. Their sense of safety may be shattered by frightening visual stimuli, loud noises, violent movements, and other sensations associated with an unpredictable frightening event. The frightening images tend to recur in the form of nightmares, new fears, and actions or play that reenact the event. Lacking an accurate understanding of the relationship between cause and effect, young children believe that their thoughts, wishes, and fears have the power to become real and can make things happen. Young children are less able to anticipate danger or to know how to keep themselves safe, and so are particularly vulnerable to the effects of exposure to trauma. A 2-year-old who witnesses a traumatic event like his mother being battered may interpret it quite differently from the way a 5-year-old or an 11-year-old would. Children may blame themselves or their parents for not preventing a frightening event or for not being able to change its outcome. These misconceptions of reality compound the negative impact of traumatic effects on children’s development.” Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are adverse childhood experiences that harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later; they cause much of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence.
Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are adverse childhood experiences that harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later; they cause much of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence.
According to the Aces too High website “ACEs” comes from the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a groundbreaking public health study that discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. The ACE Study has published about 70 research papers since 1998. Hundreds of additional research papers based on the ACE Study have also been published.
The ACE Study revealed five main discoveries:
ACEs are common…nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at least one.
They cause adult onset of chronic disease, such as cancer and heart disease, as well as mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence
ACEs don’t occur alone….if you have one, there’s an 87% chance that you have two or more.
The more ACEs you have, the greater the risk for chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. People have an ACE score of 0 to 10. Each type of trauma counts as one, no matter how many times it occurs. You can think of an ACE score as a cholesterol score for childhood trauma. For example, people with an ACE score of 4 are twice as likely to be smokers and seven times more likely to be alcoholic. Having an ACE score of 4 increases the risk of emphysema or chronic bronchitis by nearly 400 percent, and suicide by 1200 percent. People with high ACE scores are more likely to be violent, to have more marriages, more broken bones, more drug prescriptions, more depression, and more autoimmune diseases. People with an ACE score of 6 or higher are at risk of their lifespan being shortened by 20 years.
ACEs are responsible for a big chunk of workplace absenteeism, and for costs in health care, emergency response, mental health and criminal justice. So, the fifth finding from the ACE Study is that childhood adversity contributes to most of our major chronic health, mental health, economic health and social health issues.
The good news is that the brain is plastic, and the body wants to heal. The brain is continually changing in response to the environment. If the toxic stress stops and is replaced by practices that build resilience, the brain can slowly undo many of the stress-induced changes. There is well documented research on how individuals’ brains and bodies become healthier through mindfulness practices, exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, and healthy social interactions. Research on families shows that interventions can improve the lives of parents and children. Evidence-based parenting practices (Incredible Years, Triple P Parenting, etc.), increase the health of parents and children.
Research on communities and systems is emerging, but early data, especially from schools and juvenile detention centers, is showing promise.
Here’s a good article that weaves the unified science of human development together: Scars That Don’t Fade, from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Proto Magazine.
As we learn more about trauma, it makes sense that we take a “trauma informed approach” in working with children and adults who have experienced trauma. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAHMSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a trauma-informed approach refers to how an organization or community thinks about and responds to children and adults who have experienced or may be at risk for experiencing trauma. In this approach, the whole community understands the prevalence and impact of ACEs, the role trauma plays in people’s lives, and the complex and varied paths for healing and recovery.
As CASA volunteers, it is not unusual to hear about “trauma.” It is unusual for the children in our cases to have NOT experienced some form of trauma. Trauma can be caused through many events, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, living in a chaotic/unstable home, living in a violent neighborhood, and even being in foster care.
Trauma and ACEs
CASA volunteers are the key to our success! We're excited to have a new class of volunteers on board! Among some notable past experiences in social work and the justice system, this class seems uniquely suited to bring fresh perspective and care to the cases they're assigned.
We look forward to many years of successful cases, essential court reports and a growing relationship with the children they will serve.
A CASA provides a multitude of positive lifelong impacts on their cases and children they serve. Over last two years, 97% of the nearly 3,000 recommendations made to the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Circuit Court have been adopted by the judges and ordered on behalf of the children we serve.
Pictured below: the Fall 2016 class of CASA volunteers take the oath.
Top left: Executive Director Darcy Cunningham makes opening remarks.
Bottom left: Judge Sotelo and new CASA Volunteer Jessica Say at the swearing in ceremony.
Eleven new volunteers have passed background checks, screening and a lengthy interview process in order to undergo the extensive pre-service training that culminates in the February 22nd swearing in.
welcome volunteer class of february!
CASA Stats FY17 To-Date
During FY2016, our CASA volunteers once again ensured that our most vulnerable children – those with an open Abuse and Neglect case before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court – remained the focus of these complicated and difficult cases. FY2017 has started out no different.
February 2017 swearing in
306 kids from 165 families served
19 CASAs with two or more cases
71 kids from 37 families referred by court
69 kids from 33 families opened
87 kids with cases closed
We were lucky to meet the family and friends that support our volunteers and their work. We are incredibly proud of our new volunteers and can't wait to see the great work they will do.
Right: CASA volunteers pose with Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Chief Judge Sotelo.
Bottom right: Supervisors Mary Mulvenon and Priscilla Jahanian prepare refreshments during the reception.
Bottom left: President-elect of the Fairfax Bar Association Thomas Repczynski speaks to our new CASA volunteers.
CHILDREN SERVED in Fiscal year 2017 to date
welcome to our NEWest Board MEMBER:
Amy Gandhi recently joined the Board of Directors for Fairfax CASA in December 2016. She will be part of the Fundraising and Legislative Framework committees. When Amy is not chasing her dog, Rocky, around the yard, she serves as the Senior Director of Program Integrity and Internal Audit at Evolent Health. Prior to that position, she worked as the Compliance Officer for the Population Health division at Inova Health System.
After law school, Amy clerked for the Honorable James G. Troiano in New Jersey where she worked on helping children going through the court system. Since then, Amy has been involved in volunteering at homeless shelters and with mentoring.
GIVE BACK WHEN YOU SHOP
ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT FAIRFAX CASA
KidCents is a program created by The Rite Aid Foundation that allows Rite Aid customers to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar and donate their change to help support kid-focused charities.
By rounding up, you are helping us to reach our goals by simply shopping at Rite Aid. Imagine the change that your change can make!
Sept. 28th, 7:30-8:30 pm
Dolly Madison Library
1244 Oak Ridge Ave
McLean VA 22101
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4103 Chain bridge rd. Suite 200
fairfax, va 22030