News and Events
Returning to Normalcy
Much of 2021 and the first half of 2022 was spent recovering from the “pandemic environment” and returning to some sense of normalcy. We are happy to report that Navajo County Friends of CASA (NCFoC) is back to conducting face-to-face interactions with CASA volunteers, caregivers, and foster kids. Regular in-person Governing Board meetings have resumed and are well attended with all Board members safe and healthy.
We would also report that our generous donations continued to remain strong throughout the pandemic months. THANK YOU!
We have continued all of our very successful annual programs for Navajo County kids and youth in foster care, in addition to serving individual grant requests for specific needs identified by a CASA volunteer, a DCS (Department of Child Safety) caseworker, a caregiver, or anyone else directly associated with the foster placement.
Our annual programs include (a) our Back-to-School Clothing/Supplies Program which provides $250 per school-age child each summer prior to the school year, (b) our New Winter Coat Program which provides a new warm coat each October for every child in dependent care, (c) our Christmas Gift Program where each foster child provides a list of their Christmas wishes, and we serve as many as possible, and (d) our Summer Fun Picnic for all kids and their caregivers. All of these programs are widely attended and very effective.
Help Extended Into Apache County
Of particular significance this year was the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Apache County Friends of CASA (ACFoC) and Navajo County Friends of CASA (NCFoC) whereby we are now including all foster kids in Apache County in all of our annual programs and providing eligibility to apply for special needs grants. ACFoC as been serving Apache County for almost 10 years as a 501(c)3, not-for-profit CASA Support organization with its own leadership and Board of Directors.
In recent years the number of foster kids in the County has dropped below the minimum number of required “kids served” to qualify as a State-certified QFCCO (Qualified Foster Care Charitable Organization). This means they are not able to offer tax-credit status to their donors for the donations received. In addition, the local DCS office that served Apache County has been closed with all cases now being handled by Navajo County DCS offices in Show Low and Winslow. And finally, without QFCCO status it became very difficult to fund programs and services to their foster kids.
This MOU creates a partnership between NCFoC and ACFoC where the Apache County kids and caregivers can participate in ALL NCFoC programs and services without the complications of officially “merging” the two organizations. Each organization will continue to operate independently with their own Governing Boards, mission and vision, tax-exempt status, and Articles of Incorporation. This agreement will allow each organization to better serve, and coordinate with, their local constituencies while providing a complete set of programs and services to all the kids in both Counties. NCFoC will fund ALL foster youth and caregiver programs and services from its QFCCO donations.
Youth Transitioning To Adulthood
There is an increased focus at both the State and local levels on foster youth transitioning from DCS dependent care to adulthood as they “age out” on their 18th birthday and historically receive little, if any, assistance from the State going forward.
NCFoC is evaluating both participation in any new State-wide programs, as well as local efforts to provide additional assistance. The emphasis is on the Big 3—education, employment, housing—for these aging-out youth to help them cope with their new independent status. Although broad-based programs are difficult to develop and implement since almost every situation is unique, we continue to seek local partners to address these issues with us.
Our sponsorship of Red Hawk Ranch, the only local congregate care facility (Group Home) in Navajo County, continues to be a highlight for us. We have helped them with outdoor and sporting equipment for the kids, have provided new washers and dryers for the dormitory areas, and have helped with several structural repairs. Red Hawk Ranch continues to be a premier institution that provides a unique mountain-living experience for their kids and focuses on keeping siblings together during the family reunification process.
Governing Board Members Goodbye and Hello
Earlier this year, we said goodbye to a couple of wonderful long-time Board members, Mike and Ildi Ervin, who have chosen to leave the Mountain and begin a new phase of their lives. We stay in contact with them and wish them peace and happiness in their travels.
And, in our continuing efforts to renew our Board membership, we have recently added Georgann Mason to our Board and are close to announcing another very valuable member. Georgann is an experienced DCS caseworker who understands the needs of the foster community better than most of us. We look forward to working with her.
Fundraising activities continue as usual. Our balance sheet is solid, we have money in the bank, and we take our fiduciary duty to spend your money wisely in the support of kids and caregivers in the foster care system very seriously!
More than 85% of the money we raise each year comes via the Arizona State Income Tax Credit opportunity where donations (up to $500/person, $1000/couple) can be applied directly, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, to the donor’s tax obligation.
After a rough couple of years for all of us, we are fully operational with new enthusiasm, new ideas, new Board members, and new kids to serve. Our mission is important, and we couldn’t do it without your continued support.
Thank you again for helping us help the kids!