To our new advocates that were sworn-in on Tuesday, April 4, 2023
From left to right: William Broderick, Kayne Stewart, Judge Amanda Calogero, Amanda Melvin, Kathleen Langan, Rodreca Gant
With your help, we will work towards decreasing the number of children on our waitlist. Currently we have 49 children waiting to be assigned a CASA volunteer. We are excited to have you on board. Thank you for your commitment to advocate for a Jefferson Parish foster child. -Wendy Magee CASA Jefferson Executive Director
May is National Foster Care Month Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families.
The Children's Bureau's National Foster Care Month campaign recognizes the important role that members from all parts of child welfare play in supporting children, youth, and families. This year’s theme, “Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families.” highlights the need to take a holistic and culturally responsive approach to supporting the mental health needs of those involved with child welfare.
View these statistics to learn about the higher rates in which children and youth in foster care experience mental health challenges. They also present the systemic barriers that Black, Indigenous, and other children and youth of color as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) populations face in receiving culturally appropriate mental health services and supports.
There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care. Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for these children and teens.
Up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, compared with approximately 18 to 22 percent of the general population.
Native American/Alaskan Native people report experiencing serious psychological distress 2.5 times more often than the general population over a month’s time.
LGBTQIA2S+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than non-LGBTQIA2A+-identifying teens.
In comparison with the general population, African Americans are less likely to be offered evidence-based medication therapy or psychotherapy.
Nearly 90 percent of Latinx/Hispanic people over the age of 12 with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment.
Language barriers contribute to the difficulty in finding health care and other services. Overall, 32.6 percent of Asian Americans do not speak English fluently.
Because of the complex traumas faced by children and youth in foster care, foster care alumni experienced posttraumatic stress disorder at a rate nearly five times higher than the general adult population.
Youth in foster care are prescribed psychotropic medications at a much higher rate than youth in the general population (4 percent).
Let us all use the month of May to renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for Jefferson Parish children and youth in foster care and recognize those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
GiveNOLA Day returns onMay 2, 2023!
Make a difference by joining us for 24 hours of giving to benefit our regional nonprofits. GiveNOLA Day is a 24-hour event hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Together, let’s inspire people to give generously so that we can make our region stronger and creating a thriving community for all.
Thank You in advance for supporting CASA Jefferson on GiveNola Day!
This year’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is observed on May 11. It is a day to raise awareness of the importance of every child’s mental health. Mental health is a serious issue in modern societies. The mental health of children is even more so. According to the data from the C.D.C., one in six children between the ages of two and eight has a mental or behavioral disorder. Children are the most precious thing in the world. Children with serious mental illness and severe emotional disturbance need full-time care and treatment. Even the family of such a child needs help to cope with the situation. This is a day to help them by encouraging them into therapy. Conditions like A.D.H.D. as well as anxiety and behavioral disorders can be diagnosed and treated to help the child have a better life.
Building capacity in schools The biggest challenge facing mental health care providers right now, experts say, is a shortage of providers trained to meet the mounting needs of children and adolescents. “There’s a growing recognition that mental health is just as important as physical health in young people’s development, but that’s happening just as mental health services are under extreme strain,” said clinical psychologist Robin Gurwitch, PhD, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center.
Schools, for example, are a keyway to reach and help children—but a 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that only about half of U.S. public schools offer mental health assessments and even fewer offer treatment services. Psychologists are now ramping up efforts to better equip schools to support student well-being onsite. Much of that work involves changing policies at the school or district level to provide more support for all students. For example, school connectedness—the degree to which young people feel that adults and peers at school care about them and are invested in their success—is a key contributor to mental health. Youth who felt connected during middle and high school have fewer problems with substance use, mental health, suicidality, and risky sexual behavior as adults (Steiner, R. J., et al., Pediatrics, Vol. 144, No. 1, 2019).
Through its What Works in Schools program, the CDC funds school districts to make changes that research shows foster school connectedness. Those include improving classroom management, implementing service-learning programs for students in their communities, bringing mentors from the community into schools, and making schools safer and more supportive for LGBTQ+ students. Psychologists are also building training programs to help teachers and other school staff create supportive classrooms and aid students who are in distress. Classroom WISE (Well-Being Information and Strategies for Educators), developed by the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network and the University of Maryland’s National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH), is a free, flexible online course and resource library that draws on psychological research on social-emotional learning, behavioral regulation, mental health literacy, trauma, and more (Evidence-Based Components of Classroom WISE (PDF, 205KB), NCSMH, 2021).
Telehealth, nearly ubiquitous these days, is one of the best ways to do that. In South Carolina, psychologist Regan Stewart, PhD, and her colleagues co-launched the Telehealth Outreach Program at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015. Today, nearly every school in the state has telehealth equipment (Wi-Fi and tablets or laptops that kids can use at school or take home) and access to providers (psychology and social work graduate students and clinicians trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy). Students who need services, which are free thanks to grant funding or covered by Medicaid, meet one-on-one with their clinician during the school day or after hours (American Psychologist, Vol. 75, No. 8, 2020).
To learn more go to: https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/index.html
10 things to know about how social media affects teens' brains
The statistics are sobering. Nearly 1 in 3 teen girls report having seriously considered suicide in the past year. One in 5 teens identifying as LGBTQ+ say they attempted suicide in that time. Between 2009 and 2019, depression rates doubled for all teens. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The question is: Why now? "Our brains, our bodies, and our society have been evolving together to shape human development for millennia. ... Within the last 20 years, the advent of portable technology and social media platforms [has been] changing what took 60,000 years to evolve," Mitch Prinstein, the chief science officer at the American Psychological Association (APA), told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. "We are just beginning to understand how this may impact youth development."
Teen girls and LGBTQ+ youth plagued by violence and trauma, survey says Prinstein's 22-page testimony, along with dozens of useful footnotes, offers some much-needed clarity about the role social media may play in contributing to this teen mental health crisis. For you busy parents, caregivers and educators out there, we've distilled it down to 10 useful takeaways: 1. Social interaction is key to every child's growth and development. Humans are social creatures, and we learn through social interaction. In fact, said Prinstein, "numerous studies have revealed that children's interactions with peers have enduring effects on their occupational status, salary, relationship success, emotional development, mental health, and even on physical health and mortality over 40 years later. These effects are stronger than the effects of children's IQ, socioeconomic status and educational attainment." This helps explain why social media platforms have grown so big in a relatively short period of time. But is the kind of social interaction they offer healthy? 2. Social media platforms often traffic in the wrong kind of social interaction. What's the right kind, you ask? According to Prinstein, it's interactions and relationship-building "characterized by support, emotional intimacy, disclosure, positive regard, reliable alliance (e.g., 'having each other's backs') and trust." The problem is, social media platforms often (though not always) emphasize metrics over the humans behind the "likes" and "followers," which can lead teens to simply post things about themselves, true or not, that they hope will draw the most attention. And these cycles, Prinstein warned, "create the exact opposite qualities needed for successful and adaptive relationships (i.e., [they are] disingenuous, anonymous, depersonalized).In other words, social media offers the 'empty calories of social interaction,' that appear to help satiate our biological and psychological needs, but do not contain any of the healthy ingredients necessary to reap benefits." In fact, research has found that social media can actually make some teens feel lonelier. 3. It's not all bad. The APA's chief science officer also made clear that social media and the study of it are both too young to arrive at many conclusions with absolute certainty. In fact, when used properly, social media can feed teens' need for social connection in healthy ways. "Research suggests that young people form and maintain friendships online. These relationships often afford opportunities to interact with a more diverse peer group than offline, and the relationships are close and meaningful and provide important support to youth in times of stress." What's more, Prinstein pointed out, for many marginalized teens, "digital platforms provide animportant space for self-discovery and expression" and can help them forge meaningful relationships that may buffer and protect them from the effects of stress. 4. Adolescence is a "developmentally vulnerable period" when teens crave social rewards, but don't have the ability to restrain themselves. That's because, as children enter puberty, the areas of the brain "associated with our craving for 'social rewards,' such as visibility, attention and positive feedback from peers" tend to develop well before the bits of the brain "involved in our ability to inhibit our behavior, and resist temptations, " Prinstein said. Social media platforms that reward teens with "likes" and new "followers" can trigger and feed that craving. 5. "Likes" can make bad behavior look good. Hollywood has long grappled with groups of parents who worry that violent or overly sexualized movies can have a negative effect on teen behavior. Well, similar fears about teens witnessing bad behavior on social media might be well-founded. But it's complicated. "Research examining adolescents' brains while on a simulated social media site, for example, revealed that when exposed to illegal, dangerous imagery, activation of the prefrontal cortex was observed suggesting healthy inhibition towards maladaptive behaviors," Prinstein told lawmakers. So, that's good. The prefrontal cortex helps us make smart (and safe) decisions. Hooray for the prefrontal cortex! Here's the problem. When teens viewed these same illegal and/or dangerous behaviors on social media alongside icons suggesting the negative content had been "liked" by others, the part of the brain that keeps us safe stopped working as well, Prinstein said, "suggesting that the 'likes' may reduce youths' inhibition (i.e., perhaps increasing their proclivity) toward dangerous and illegal behavior." In other words, bad behavior feels bad — until other people start liking it. 6. Social media can also make "psychologically disordered behavior" look good. Prinstein spoke specifically about websites or online accounts that promote disordered-eating behaviors and nonsuicidal self-injury, like self-cutting. "Research indicates that this content has proliferated on social media sites, not only depicting these behaviors, but teaching young people how to engage in [them], how to conceal these behaviors from adults, actively encouraging users to engage in these behaviors, and socially sanctioning those who express a desire for less risky behavior." 7. Extreme social media use can look a lot like addiction. "Regions of the brain activated by social-media-use overlap considerably with the regions involved in addictions to illegal and dangerous substances," Prinstein told lawmakers. He cited a litany of research that says excessive social media use in teens often manifests some of the same symptoms of more traditional addictions, in part because teen brains just don't have the kind of self-control toolbox that adults do. 8. The threat of online bullying is real. Prinstein warned lawmakers that "victimization, harassment, and discrimination against racial, ethnic, gender and sexual minorities is frequent online and often targeted at young people. LGBTQ+ youth experience a heightened level of bullying, threats and self-harm on social media." More LOLs, Fewer Zzzs: Teens May Be Losing Sleep Over Social Media And online bullying can take a terrible physical toll, Prinstein said: "Brain scans of adults and youths reveal that online harassment activates the same regions of the brain that respond to physical pain and trigger a cascade of reactions that replicate physical assault and create physical and mental health damage." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "youth who report any involvement with bullying behavior are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than youth who do not report any involvement with bullying behavior." 9. It's hard not to compare yourself to what you see in social media. Even adults feel it. We go onto social media sites and compare ourselves to everyone else out there, from the sunsets in our vacation pics to our waistlines – but especially our waistlines and how we look, or feel we should look, based on who's getting "likes" and who's not. For teens, the impacts of such comparisons can be amplified. Psychological science demonstrates that exposure to this online content is associated with lower self-image and distorted body perceptions among young people. This exposure creates strong risk factors for eating disorders, unhealthy weight-management behaviors, and depression," Prinstein testified. 10. Sleep is more important than those "likes." Research suggests more than half of adolescents are on screens right before bedtime, and that can keep them from getting the sleep they need. Not only is poor sleep linked to all sorts of downsides, including poor mental health symptoms, poor performance in school and trouble regulating stress, Prinstein said, but "inconsistent sleep schedules are associated with changes in structural brain development in adolescent years. In other words, youths' preoccupation with technology and social media may deleteriously affect the size of their brains." If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing or texting 9-8-8. To learn more for to: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/16/1157180971/10-things-to-know-about-how-social-media-affects-teens-brains
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. How do I shop with AmazonSmile? To use AmazonSmile, simply go to smile.amazon.com on your web browser or activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app on your iOS or Android phone within the Settings or Programs & Features menu. How do I select a charitable organization to support with AmazonSmile? On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization to receive donations from your future eligible AmazonSmile purchases. (Search for CASA Jefferson) AmazonSmile will remember your selected charity whenever you shop at smile.amazon.com or with AmazonSmile activated in the Amazon Shopping app, and then every eligible purchase you make through AmazonSmile will result in a donation for your selected charity.. How much of my purchase does Amazon donate? The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. restrictions may apply.
Our Mission is to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect through volunteers advocating for safe, nurturing, and permanent homes for foster children in our community. Our Vision is to have volunteers recruited, trained, and assigned to every child in the foster care system in Jefferson Parish.