Proposition 10

On November 1998, California voters passed the California Children and Families Act of 1998. The act levies a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products with the intent to provide funding for early childhood development programs, in addition to establishing a State Commission and local County Commissions for this purpose. 

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CASA of Imperial County - SHEANE Project

Every year a significant number of children 0 to 5 years of age that are subject to abuse and/or neglect are in need of safe, permanent, nurturing homes - as 53% of foster children who enter the juvenile dependency system in the county are under the age of five. That’s where CASA of Imperial County’s Safe, Healthy, Educational and Nurturing (SHEANE) Project is a key contributor in the system established to support these children. Funded by the Imperial County Children and Families First Commission, this Project is founded on the evidence that supports the need to advocate for abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Through the support of volunteers, the SHEANE Project is committed to providing at-risk children 0 to 5 years of age with a voice in the juvenile court process and is dedicated to work for a population that has been identified as severely “at-risk” of not obtaining positive outcomes in all areas of development – health, mental health, economic stability and educational attainment. A majority of these children have been removed from their parents due to the drug abuse in their homes. Unfortunately, most of these children have been significantly exposed to drug use resulting in numerous risk factors specially related to wellness and educational development.

SHEANE Project objectives can only be realized through the designation of a court-appointed special advocate for each child referred to CASA of Imperial County on a yearly basis. These advocates are identified as CASA Volunteers, are highly trained and serve a critical role, as they are appointed by judges to be a voice for young children in the court system. A CASA Volunteer is assigned to only one child that is between ages 0-5 and devotes a minimum of 18 hours per month to the child, and in many ways is responsible for the welfare of the child, and often will be the only adult present in the child’s life throughout the case.

One particularly ground-breaking objective placed into service by this project is to identify academic, social and/or physical delays in the development of the child through comprehensive screening and surveillance services provided by the Family Treehouse (a family resource center providing services for children 0-5 in the area) along with the support of the Department of Social Services. The priority for these efforts is to identify any potential delays in order to issue appropriate referrals followed by expedited services to quickly begin addressing health or educational concerns. The fact that this project takes a proactive approach to identifying potential delays in development for each foster child under 5 years of age is revolutionary. To date, this project has been instrumental in the realization of over (60) developmental screenings and has produced over (35) health and educational referrals that range from Pediatric to Speech and Language services.

The CASA SHEANE Project is making headlines not only within the county but throughout the state. This particular project has many stakeholders rethinking how we identify and provide health and educational services to children under the age of 5 – and perhaps the most important achievement is that they understand the potential impact behind these services. The SHEANE Project strives to increase the number of new cases of children 0-5 years of age assigned a CASA Volunteer; works to increase the number of children obtaining placement in a permanent home; issues referrals in order to increase preschool/kindergarten enrollment for CASA children; facilitates the developmental screenings process through the Family Treehouse in order to identify medical/developmental concerns. The desired result is that a child is placed into a safe, loving home where s/he can thrive positively at an age-appropriate level. Fortunately, the project has experienced success with the CASAprocess, and has worked to establish numerous partnerships that have meaningfully contributed to this success, such as its strong relationships with the Family Treehouse, Department of Social Services, Imperial County Behavioral Health, SELPA, and San Diego Regional Center. In addition, Alex Cardenas, the Executive Director, is actively involved in events that support services and sustainability, like the recent fundraising event with Panda Express.

For more information about the SHEANE Project feel free to visit the CASA of Imperial Count website at: http://www.casaimperialcounty.org or call (760)-353-7456