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This continuing education podcast connects CASA volunteers with engaging and relevant training designed to help strengthen advocacy for children and families. Each short, dynamic episode features informative discussions with subject matter experts exploring topics connected to child welfare and practical tips for informed CASA advocacy. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speaker(s) in their personal capacity and are not the official policy or position of Texas ...
 
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Bonus Babies

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Bonus Babies

Jayne Amelia Larson

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I’m a CASA - a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer for youth in foster care. In the same way a CASA works, I explore all things in the foster care maze by talking to kids, parents, caregivers, attorneys, social workers, therapists, members of community and social programs...anybody and everybody who will speak to me to keep the conversation open and the information flowing about all things CASA––to give a forum to help people understand what it's like to have a lived foster care exper ...
 
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Our guest Lisa Merkel-Holguin has written that "children and youth, in systems that are designed to serve them, often experience their needs and opinions as being overlooked in the context of planning for them." Join us for part two of this episode featuring Anita Horner and Lisa Merkel-Holguin to learn more about creative and meaningful ways young…
 
BONUS BABIES producer Jake Eberle introduces this between seasons bonus episode which includes special moments from Season 1 with Teena Festa (#17), Howie Cohen (#21), and Venus Manuel with Lori Nelson (#5), and upcoming excerpts from Season 2 with Daron Bennett and Cody Renegar. Thanks for listening and we will be dropping new episodes soon. Pleas…
 
Too often, child welfare professionals' good intentions of protecting children or youth from difficult conversations can have the unintended result of excluding the young person from decision-making that profoundly impacts them. Texas CASA is deeply honored to welcome the powerhouse duo Lisa Merkel-Holguin and Anita Horner from The Kempe Center for…
 
Hi everybody, BONUS BABIES is working hard on Season 2 and will be dropping new episodes soon. We are so happy there are so many people listening (all over the world!) and can't wait to reach an even bigger audience this next season. Please consider becoming a CASA or a foster parent or offering respite care or contributing to the many worthy organ…
 
Understanding the desires of the child or youth is central to best interest advocacy. How can CASA advocates partner with youth to ensure their voices are heard and their perspectives are valued? In this episode we're joined by two wonderful guests from Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS), Prince Hayward and Josue Rodriguez, sharing their exper…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth Angelo Melendez. When Angelo was orphaned at the age of 2, he was sent to live in foster care in an all boys group home. Luckily he soon went into the care of loving foster parents, Howie and Carol Cohen, who call him "the one" and wanted to adopt him. Angelo spent several happy years with them in Beverly…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth and advocate Alexis Obinna. Alexis is one of the founders and a current member of the Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project Youth Advisory Board. During Alexis's time in California’s foster care system, volunteering at church was fun and better than staying at home. During college, Alexis was abl…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster parent, Howie Cohen. The LA Times dubbed him “A Real-Life Don Draper.” In an advertising career that spanned five decades, Howie Cohen wrote the immortal words for Alka Seltzer, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” and “Try it, you’ll like it” both in the Clio Hall of Fame. Howie got his start as the younges…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with a devoted and talented child therapist, Kylie. Kylie is a School Therapist working for a non-profit organization providing therapy to students ages 5-22 who live in the residences on campus, or come from homes in the nearby community. These are children who need additional support and aren't able to thrive in a general schoo…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with producer, entrepreneur, and serial philanthropist, Peter Samuelson. Peter Samuelson is the Co-Founder and President of First Star, and CEO of PhilmCo Media llc. Mr. Samuelson is a serial pro-social entrepreneur. In 1982 he co-founded the Starlight Children’s Foundation; by 1990 the positive psychological impact of Starlight …
 
Jayne Amelia Larson talks with foster parent and adoptive mother, Anita, who when she was single and only 22-years-old welcomed an 11-year-old girl, Ashleigh, into her home thinking it was for short respite care, maybe a week or a month... and ended up caring for her for years and then adopting her. Anita says: "I would not have been able to do thi…
 
How can CASA advocates help bend the arc of child welfare practice to become more fully family-centered? In this episode, Dr. Natalie Beck Aguilera shares evidence-based strategies for engaging with families and explores why collaborating with family members is so crucial to effective child advocacy. Dr. Beck Aguilera's "reframe game" illuminates h…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with Teena Festa who is a new CASA volunteer and also a former foster youth. After having a very difficult time in foster care, as well as struggling with mental health and addiction as a young adult, Teena persevered and decided to try and help people like her. On top of being a CASA, she is working on her psychology degree with…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth Tamar Sebesta, who is also a proud and happy young mother. "I’m Tamar Sebesta and a sophomore student at Orange Coast College. I am in the process of achieving an Associates degree for transfer in Political Science, Communications, Psychology, as well as Liberal Arts. I am an active member on my campus an…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with Sid Gardner who co-parented four biological, step, and adoptive children during the past 50 years. Mr. Gardner is a Southern California native and serves as President of Children and Family Futures which he co-founded with his wife, Dr. Nancy Young. He served as Director of the Center for Collaboration for Children at Califo…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with the gracious and always growing, Megan Green, Founder/CEO of Motivate Vibe Grow and Crownworkshops all over the world. "Service isn’t one act of kindness," she says. "It has been a lifestyle for me. I have been a leader and advocate for marginalized groups and people of color throughout my whole career. I have dedicated my l…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with foster care alumnus Diane Martell who has talent and grit too. She's an experienced learning & organizational development consultant, is known for supporting clients in reimagining current processes, procedures and team talent, and maximizing performance as they develop plans for the future. With 30+ years working in both th…
 
This week we're thrilled to share a conversation with The Honorable Leonard Edwards, who joins us to talk about his recent article on the urgency of placing children with relatives. A retired judge now working as a consultant and educator on judicial best practices, Judge Edwards served as a Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara County for 26 years, …
 
Jayne Amelia Larson talks with the powerhouse Wendelyn Julien who served as CEO of CASA of Los Angeles from 2016-2021, and is now the Executive Director of the new Probation Oversight Commission at Los Angeles County. She is an attorney with over 20 years of experience in social justice work with a focus on improving our community for young people.…
 
Ashleigh Nichols is a creative New York-based artist, web designer, developer, and illustrator living in Brooklyn with a penchant for all things creative. Ashleigh grew up in a suburban town just outside of D.C. and now calls Brooklyn home. She graduated from The New School with concentrations in Visual Arts and Writing and began coding in 2016. Sh…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth Jaronna Yates. Jaronna has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 22 years, spanning across three major studios, and is currently the Sr. Project Director with Illumination Entertainment heading up the Global Project Management Team for their Marketing Division. From ages five to 13, Jaronna wa…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth Toni Cunningham. Anthony Cunningham, better known as Toni, is currently in his fourth year in the Recreation Tourism Management program at Cal State Northridge. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles in the foster care system, Toni has overcome the many obstacles that have been placed is his path. T…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth Vaughn Laws. "My name is Vaughn and I wish I knew where I was headed, but this adventure that has been life left me a husk of who I used to be. I've come through a lot and managed to keep my wits about me and pretty much out of trouble. I am currently aspiring to be a graphic designer. I had more ambition…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with children's attorney Juan Valles. Juan was born in Downey, California, and grew up in Southeast Los Angeles County. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in linguistics, Juan spent several years working in higher education administration. In particular, he worked with undergraduates in advi…
 
Today's guest is LaTanya Hill. "LT" is a writer with a background in law, education, government, and most recently became a Reiki Master and started her own energy healing business in Los Angeles – IMREIKINOW. She has been a CASA for over 4 years and is still assisting her very first child in the program. Please see imreikinow.com for more informat…
 
Jayne Amelia Larson talks with former foster youth Venus Manuel and her case worker Lori Nelson, a former social worker working in the LA County foster care system. Venus spent her adolescence and teen years bouncing from foster home to home, and credits one great social worker, Lori Nelson, with saving her life. And Lori says they saved each other…
 
Research shows that youth in foster care are at high risk of dropping out of school and are less likely to attend or graduate from college than peers who did not experience foster care. CASA volunteers can play a powerful role when it comes to supporting these youth in meeting their educational goals, including access to higher education. In this e…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with Lori Nelson, former social worker working in the foster care system and now with the LA County Probation Department. "Lori was born a crusader with a heart for lost pets, the kid bullies made fun of and the person to run to and run away with when things were scary and unsafe. Lori’s childhood experiences led her to work in t…
 
Jayne Amelia interviews former foster youth, Venus Manuel, a shining example of how nurture does not always triumph over nature. From an early childhood rampant with sexual and physical abuse followed by a string of nine foster care homes, the development of another disillusioned dysfunctional youth seemed tragically imminent. However, the strength…
 
Casa Valentina provides at-risk and former foster care youth with safe affordable housing, life skills, and continued support so that they achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Their vision is a community in which all foster children receive the care and support they need to reach their full potential.Ken Russell Miami PodcastSignup for our newsle…
 
Jayne Amelia talks with Jaci Cortez, former foster youth identifying as LGBTQIA and now a foster youth advocate. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Jaci is of Guatemalan and Asian Indian descent, and was in foster care from the ages of 4-21. She has a Communications Degree from Rio Hondo College, and now serves as a consultant to nonprofit…
 
Jayne Amelia introduces the BONUS BABIES podcast and talks with her first guest, foster parent and Peace4kids.org volunteer, Mrs. Dorrie Woods. After a rewarding career in education, Dorrie retired to a life of family and volunteering with Center of Hope Youth Ministries, Miracle Workers, Carson Foster Parent Association, and Peace4Kids which offer…
 
St. Alban's is committed to providing quality early childhood education to young children that nourish self-development, cultural identity, and respect for others while supporting the personal growth of the families enrolled in the programs.Ken Russell Miami PodcastSignup for our newsletter: https://forms.gle/gN5XhGcrWS9BHscZAGuest Links & contact:…
 
Just off Main Highway in downtown Coconut Grove awaits a jewel from a quieter time. The Barnacle, the 19th century home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, one of Coconut Grove’s most influential and charming residents, is one of the oldest houses in Miami-Dade County. Munroe purchased 40 acres of bayfront land in 1886 for $400 plus one of his sailboats, Ki…
 
This special episode of CASA on the Go comes from our Distinguished Speaker Series, where we had the amazing opportunity to host conversations with trailblazers in equity and child welfare. In this episode, Kevin Campbell, developer of the Family Finding model, and Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs discuss the role of compassion in child welfare work, a…
 
This is the trailer for my podcast, BONUS BABIES. I interview kids, attorneys, social workers, caregivers and more, and track my experience learning about and navigating through the foster care system…not as someone who has a lived foster care experience… but through the unique lens of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (or CASA) volunteer––the eye…
 
Today we talk to Professor Andrew C. Baker, Ph.D. from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. We talk about his work with coral reefs, especially those around the City of Miami. He is working extensively on coral reel restoration and finding ways to protect them from natural and human-made stressors. His…
 
This special episode of CASA on the Go comes from our Distinguished Speaker Series, where we had the amazing opportunity to host conversations with trailblazers in equity and child welfare. This episode features Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs and Riki Wilchins, Executive Director of TrueChild, discussing gender norms and the connections between gende…
 
Debris Free Oceans is a Miami-based organization that inspires local communities to responsibly manage the lifecycle of plastics and waste as part of a global initiative to eradicate marine debris from our beaches, reefs, and oceans. they believe in shifting our culture towards a circular economy, where “waste” no longer exists and all consumables …
 
After my visit to the City of Stuart to learn about their water quality challenges, Vice Mayor Merritt Matheson & I jump on a podcast to share with you what we discussed. We talk about toxic water problems & Lake O discharges. Ken Russell Miami PodcastSignup for our newsletter: https://forms.gle/gN5XhGcrWS9BHscZAGuest Links & contact:City of Stuart…
 
Shake-A-Leg is a place for children and adults with disabilities, as well as their families, to call their own. The Shake-a-Leg Miami’s mission is as relevant today as it was when it was founded 28 years ago. Through the power of sailing and watersports, it aims to become the premier global community for people with disabilities, their families, an…
 
The Biscayne Aquifer is the source of water supply. Protecting water quality in Biscayne Bay is essential to maintain our quality of life. Biscayne Bay is one of the premier recreational locations in the world. From our beaches to our coral reefs and from the seaport to the bay walk, it is and will continue to serve, as a vital resource to Miami-Da…
 
Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick, injured or orphaned brown pelicans, seabirds, and other native wildlife; and the preservation and protection of these species through educational and scientific means. As a trusted wildlife rehab center, Pelican Harbor Seabird Station embodies profession…
 
Miami Waterkeeper’s (MWK) mission is to defend, protect, and preserve South Florida’s watershed through citizen engagement and community action rooted in sound science and research. They work to ensure swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all.Ken Russell MiamiNewsletter signup: https://forms.gle/gN5XhGcrWS9BHscZAGuest contact info: https://www.…
 
This special episode of CASA on the Go comes from our Distinguished Speaker Series, where we had the amazing opportunity to host conversations with trailblazers in equity and child welfare. This episode features Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs and Dr. Jessica Pryce, Executive Director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, discussing how we can m…
 
VolunteerCleanup.Org engages volunteers to clean up their neighborhoods, shorelines, and waterways as a way to raise awareness about marine debris and encourage people to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics.Ken Russell MiamiNewsletter signup: https://forms.gle/gN5XhGcrWS9BHscZAGuest links & contact: Volunteer Cleanup https://www.volunteerc…
 
Domestic violence impacts many families involved in the child welfare system, and this is an area where CASA volunteers can make a powerful impact through informed recommendations about appropriate services and supports. In this episode, we're joined by Claire Sudolsky of the Texas Council on Family Violence as she shares her expertise about how vo…
 
How can CASA volunteers skillfully advocate for youth with disabilities? On this episode of CASA on the Go we're joined by Heidi Lersch, Educator and Training Coordinator with SAFE’s Disability Services, and Rashid Amrani-Khaldi, Community Engagement Specialist with SAFE Disability Services, sharing strategies for how CASA volunteers can work to id…
 
In this episode, we talk with Alejandro Victoria, Director of Volunteer Admissions at CASA of Travis County, about the connections between CASA advocacy and the nation-wide calls for racial equity that have come to the forefront this summer. Tune in for a discussion of how CASA volunteers can proactively support youth in processing current events, …
 
According to a report from Texans Care for Children, DFPS data from 2017 indicate that parental substance use is a contributing factor in 68 percent of child removals in Texas. On this episode of CASA on the Go, the Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones shares her expertise on trauma-informed advocacy strategies for working with families impacted by subs…
 
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