Child Advocates of Placer County
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Organization Details


In a geographic area of prosperity, Prosper Placer strives to reach a part of the community that is underserved and often unseen: working families living in poverty. Utilizing asset-based approaches that value social capital and recognize the need for a multi-generational approach, Prosper Placer helps low income families address poverty at its holistic core - social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial - through education, goal setting, connection to opportunities, and advocating for needed services that are absent within the community. Prosper Placer utilizes volunteers and natural community supports to empower families living in poverty to move into the middle class. In our program, low-income families become the "Change Leaders" who learn about the causes and effects of poverty and develop specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals-a plan to move their family out of poverty.

Community mentors, called "Allies" learn and work alongside these Change Leaders over a two-year period, providing friendship, sharing knowledge and connections, and encouraging self-confidence and resiliency. In effect, the Change Leaders and Allies form an intentional community that focuses on helping families gain the knowledge, skills, and assistance they need to transform their lives.

Prosper Placer began as a partnership of five local churches (Pioneer United Methodist, St. Teresa Avila Catholic, St. Luke's Episcopal, Newcastle United Methodist, and First United Methodist of Loomis) that saw a need to serve the "working poor" in our community. Utilizing the secular-based NETworX USA curriculum, and following an established model developed in Carson City, NV, these churches launched a pilot program in April, 2017 with six families. When it became apparent that the pilot program was a success, the five churches reached out to Child Advocates of Placer County (CAPC) - which had a strong track record of working with volunteers - and CAPC became the 501(c)(3) umbrella for Prosper Placer.
Program Successes
This is a new program of Child Advocates of Placer County. As such, success will be:
- The expansion of the program to 24 families in two cohorts,
- A mid-program Quality of Life assessment that shows movement of at least 1-2 levels (on a 1 to 5 scale) in 90% of the areas each family targeted for improvement,
- At the end of one year, 85% of families will have reached half their SMART goals and will be well on their way to meeting the remaining goals,
- After two years, more than 80% of our families will meet all of their SMART goals,
- After two years, 100% of the families will show an increase of 2 points in their Quality of Life scale scores, and
- After two years, 80-90% of the families will increase their income to 150% of the poverty level (as determined by the number of members within each family).

We will measure success through pre-and post-data (income level, health, education, housing, safety, transportation), self-reported changes on a Quality of Life scale, and by measured growth on the specific goals families have set. In our current pilot group, a majority of families have goals that include completing training programs, improving employment/earning, losing weight and managing stress, improving housing, and educational goals for participants' children.

The overall goal of Prosper Placer is to measurably reduce poverty at its holistic core. In the long term, this helps low-income families and makes our communities better for everyone. As Change Leaders learn and grow, they make better choices and improved their overall well-being. As Change Leaders and Allies become aware of community barriers that keep families in poverty, they become advocates for community change. In this way, we collaborate with a variety of other groups working to improve the social determinants of health and wellness.
Our Placer CASA program provides court appointed advocates to youth in foster care. CASAs are sworn Officers of the Court, and in essence are the "eyes and ears of the judge, and the voice of the child" in juvenile dependency proceedings. They also actively mentor the youth they serve, and often build long-term relationships with their youth. Our CASA volunteers meet weekly with their assigned foster youth, conduct interviews with associated parties (parents, social workers, teachers, etc.), review court documents, and (with our assistance) develop court reports stating the child's situation, the child's wishes, and recommendations for court actions that are in the child's best interests. Our goal is to help place these children in permanent homes.

Our ultimate goal is to break the cycle of child abuse, which is often intergenerational - many of the parents of our youth were abused or neglected themselves. By providing youth with caring adult mentors and role models, we hope to break this cycle and eliminate future child abuse/neglect.
Program Successes
- In 2017, we have had 195 CASA volunteers advocate for 373 Placer County foster children.
- During this time, we helped our Child Welfare Agency close 182 cases, 83% of them through reunification with their families, guardianship or adoption.
- Fewer than 2% of all the children we have served through CASA re-entered the child welfare system after they were reunified/adopted. This is partly because our volunteers remain in contact with the youth - as a family friend - even after the case closes. In this way, our volunteers help their youth transition back into a normal life.
Placer Mentors assigns adult mentors to youth, ages 8 - 18, who are "at-risk" of entering the juvenile justice and/or child welfare systems, or are at risk of educational failure. Some of our Placer Mentors are CASA volunteers who, at the youth's request, are maintaining an informal with the youth after the Dependency or Delinquency court case has closed. Our Mentors act as positive role models for the youth, helping them re-engage in school and their natural community support systems, and transition successfully into adulthood. Mentors are also able to request services for the youth, such as therapy, tutoring, and after-school care. Our Mentors also serve former foster youth, ages 18 - 24, who have aged-out of the system and have no significant family support. For these young adults, our Mentors help them locate housing, apply to college or trade schools, secure scholarships and other benefits, and find jobs.
Program Successes
- In 2017, we have mentored 37 at-risk youth and former foster youth, of which 28 are still active.
- During this time, we also closed 48 cases because the goals of the match were met.

Each youth works on unique goals, but the most common themes were:
- Improving educational outcomes/graduation: 26%
- Changing behavior and how they interact with others: 19%
- Resolving transportation / driver's license issues: 15%
- Securing employment (full or part time): 13%
- Enrolling in college/trade schools/military: 10%
- Budgeting and finance: 7%
- Housing: 4%
The Family Mentor program provides mentors to parents who have had children removed from their homes by the child welfare system because of abuse or neglect. Our goal is to help these parents learn the skills necessary to successfully rebuild their families. Our Family Mentors teach the parents basic life skills, such as housekeeping and cooking, financial planning, and age-appropriate parenting. We also assist them in overcoming obstacles related to housing, education, employment, health care, and transportation. Each parent receives a portable plastic file box that includes a monthly planner, menu guides and financial planning tools. This box can also be used to store important documents such as tax returns, SSN cards and family mementos. Family Mentors emphasize to the parent that our job is to help them successfully reunify with their child - it is not the goal of Family Mentor or CASA to replace the parents or relieve them of their responsibilities.

Our overall goals for this project are:
- To help the parent achieve independence and get them to the point where they no longer need public assistance
- To help prevent the child from re-entering the child welfare system.
Program Successes
- In 2017, we provided Family Mentors to 41 families.
- Of the 34 cases we have closed, all but five have successfully reunified with their children.

The majority of the parents we serve are in the Dependency Court system; however, we are increasing our involvement with at-risk families. This is a pro-active approach with the goal being avoiding detention of these at-risk children. The majority of the risk factors remain substance abuse and domestic violence. Mentoring at-risk families has proven to be a good preventative measure to help our families avoid entering the Dependency system. In our last reporting period, the 19 at-risk families that we served still have avoided detainment of their children.

Additionally, no re-detainment of children has occurred for the 30 families we have worked with in the past six months. The Family Mentor works on a variety of parenting and life skills with the parents. After the relationship is well established, the strategy is for Family Mentors to set goals with the parents accompanied with an action plan for the parent to achieve these goals either short term or long term. An important part of the relationship is to help the parents identify healthy, viable resources in the community.

One highlight was a comment made by Placer County attorney Rebecca Bowman, who primarily represents parents in Dependency cases: "There are a ton of services for the parents I work with, but none of them are as effective as your Family Mentor program." In addition, Placer County CSOC has requested that we expand Family Mentors to include parents of older children.