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OVERVIEW

During 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in dramatic changes in the way Navajo County Friends of CASA operated and interacted with our volunteers, caseworkers, caregivers, and the kids. DCS (Department of Child Safety) caseworkers were prohibited from making on-site visits to foster care homes, CASA volunteers could not meet with families or take their kiddos to events and fun outings, and many foster care families faced unforeseen financial, emotional and educational challenges as a result of the pandemic. Our Governing Board could no longer meet face-to-face for our scheduled monthly meetings. And many of our traditional programs to help all foster kids in Navajo County needed to be modified or, in some cases, cancelled. It was a difficult time for all of us involved with kids in dependent care.

This unprecedented situation drove Friends of CASA to re-evaluate how we could best serve the kids AND caregivers in this unique environment. As a result, we initiated several new programs and efforts to help during these troubling times;

  1. We created a program to help caregiver families with temporary financial assistance for rent, mortgage payments, and/or utility costs if they were furloughed or lost their job as a result of the pandemic.
  2. We put additional emphasis on assistance with childcare expenses caused by the shutdown of most schools.
  3. We offered potential assistance with unexpected medical costs not covered by insurance.
  4. And, as schools began to reopen, we worked with local School Districts to assist in providing laptops, Chromebooks and/or Internet access to foster kids

Our Board continued to function, first via the Internet and email systems, and later with outdoor, face-to-face sessions at Board member residences. We were able to continue to receive, evaluate, and approve requests for individual needs (a core function of our Organization) using the Internet to distribute the description of the need, and to vote to approve assistance for those needs.

However, the persistence of the virus caused us to cancel our annual Family Fun Picnic in May where we traditionally partner with Catholic Charities and HRT to provide a fun experience for all dependent care families in Navajo County. We look forward to resuming this annual activity in 2021!

On the bright side, we conducted our Back-to-School clothing and supplies program, our New Winter Coat program, and our Christmas Gift Giving program on schedule and with only minor modifications to how we traditionally conduct these programs.

As this pandemic lingers, we stand ready to assist caregiver families with whatever unique situations they face in order to provide comfort and stability in the foster child's home.

FUND RAISING 2019/2020

Thanks to our many generous donors, we continue to generate sufficient funds to not only support our traditional activities, but also in some cases to expand those programs with additional funding and reach. Arizona State Tax Credit donations exceeded $60,000 in calendar year 2019, and we are on track to exceed $75,000 in 2020. Due to the uncertainty of the economy going forward, and the potential effects of the continuing pandemic, the Board felt it would be prudent to create a contingency fund so that we could weather disruptions to our normal funding model without significantly impacting the level of support we can provide to foster kids. With that in mind, we established a very safe and liquid laddered CD account with a modest sum of money that can be easily accessed if necessary, and with a small but guaranteed growth. And, most importantly, we continue to operate with very little administrative cost which enables us to spend 88%+ of all money raised to the direct benefit of the kids and/or their caregivers.

SUMMARY

Our Organization, like most all Americans, has been impacted by this terrible virus, and the efforts to control it. But we WILL get through this! We remain committed and flexible to find the best ways possible to continue to meet the needs of abused, neglected and abandoned kids in Navajo County. The Friends of CASA Governing Board, the County CASA Agency, the State DCS Agency and the many CASA volunteers continue to work together to make sure these kids continue to receive our encouragement, support and financial assistance.


Fund raising activities in 2017 proved to be quite successful due largely to our status as a Qualified Foster Care Charitable Organization. We enjoyed over $75,000 in donations from individual contributors who then were able to use their donations as a direct Arizona State Income Tax credit! We continue to send out heart-felt thanks to all our generous supporters. This significant increase in assets has allowed us to (1) increase our Back-to-School clothing allowance to $250 per child each year, (2) create a Summer Camp Sponsorship program with the intent to pay for approved camp tuition for as many kids as possible, (3) sponsor 2 of our local CASA volunteers to attend the National CASA Convention, (4) begin work on the creation of a “Vocational Scholarship” program to assist foster kids that age out of the State program who want to attend vocational training programs as opposed to traditional post-secondary education, and (5) assist in helping families who want to license their homes as foster homes but need help in necessary improvements. Of course we will continue our individual grants for specific needs and experiences for dependent care kids and their caregivers, our annual New Winter Coat program, Back-to-School Clothing Program, and our Summer Picnic and Christmas Gift Program.

On May 12 we conducted our annual Family Fun Picnic in Snowflake. Friends of CASA once again partnered with HRT (Human Resource Training), Catholic Charities and Arizona’s Children to sponsor this event with the intent to provide a fun-filled day of food, games, activities and prizes for ALL kids in dependent care in Navajo County along with their caregiver’s family. Strong winds forced us to relocate the event from Snowflake Pioneer Park to a nearby LDS church building, but the kids still had lots of fun and the event was quite a success.

Navajo County Friends of CASA had its first success in helping kids with serious orthodontic needs. Historically, this type of dental work is very expensive and beyond the scope of what we could afford. However, in partnership with an organization called “Smiles Change Lives” which donate orthodontic work for foster and other needy kids, we are able to provide this complete service, which can approach $5000 for a complete program, for about $600. We have now sponsored two kids who are in a 1-2 year program to correct their dental issues.

Lastly, the employees of the Coronado Power Generating Station (a subsidiary of SRP located just outside St. Johns) voted to add Navajo County Friends of CASA to its list of charitable organizations where employees can deduct a portion of their paychecks to go directly to those charities. We are very grateful to these employees and look forward to working with them in the future. Also, it is our intent to share these contributions with the Apache County CASA support organization since many of the Coronado employees live and work in Apache County.

NCFOC Picnic - 2018

For many years Solterra Senior Living has graciously allowed Navajo County Friends of CASA to use a conference room in their facility for our monthly Board meetings. This generous accommodation allows us to continue to minimize our operating expense and preserve as much revenue as possible to meet the needs of our kids in dependent care. Friends of CASA recently presented a “Thank You” plaque to Sunshine Tippets (Community Marketing Director) and Anita James in recognition of their support of our organization. Shown is George Turner (President, NCFoC) presenting the plaque to Sunshine and Anita.


Typical NCFOC Board Meeting - 2017


November 20, 2012 - Luggage Drive Success!


April 21, 2014 - Navajo County Board of Supervisors

 

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