Tools and Guides

In Your Best Interest: A Teen’s Guide to the Child Welfare System in Wisconsin

is a legal guide that helps youth navigate their way through the foster care system in Wisconsin. This guide explains the function of child protective services, introduces the people involved from social workers to lawyers and judges, describes permanency plan options and foster youth rights. The guide includes an introduction to going to court, as well as questions that a judge might ask during court.

Safe Start Initiative:

The goal of the Safe Start Initiative is to broaden the knowledge of and promote community investment in evidence-based strategies for reducing the impact of children’s exposure to violence.  The Safe Start Center has many helpful toolkits and guides to help people in local communities address violence in the home, violence in schools, and violence in the community. The Safe Start Center is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs, and U.S. Department of Justice to highlight best practices in reducing trauma and helping children heal.  Click here for more on the Safe Start Initiative.

Raising Grandchildren Can Affect Health

Raising children can be demanding at any age, but it can be even more physically and emotionally challenging on older individuals. New research has found that grandparents who are the primary caretakers of their grandchildren experience health problems at higher rates. Click below to view additional resources.

Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care

How do I know if I need help? What kind of treatment is best for me if I do need help?

The Children’s Bureau is offering a new guide on mental health and psychotropic medications for youth in foster care. The guide, Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care, can be read directly by youth or can serve as a discussion tool for child welfare workers, health care providers, mentors and others working with youth in foster care. The guide provides valuable information and worksheets to assist youth in recognizing when they need help, weigh options for treatment, ask questions about their diagnosis and medication use, and how to take medication safely.

National CASA Publication Highlights Helpful Strategies for CASA Volunteers

Sometimes, as CASA volunteers and individuals working in child welfare, we may be presented with so much information about a child that it seems impossible to know where to begin or where to go next.

A Question of Balance discusses strategies for CASA volunteers as they navigate the many systems that touch their CASA youths’ lives. The book is not only CASAs beginning their journey, but it is also for experienced volunteers who can always benefit from encouragement and a refreshing perspective. In the podcast, Janet Ward, National CASA regional program officer and author of A Question of Balance, talks about why going back to the basics — focusing on advocacy — is so important. She wants to remind us all that we are not in the “child rescuing” business, and that we must resist that sometimes powerful temptation to try and “fix” everything we encounter. The book is available for purchase on the National CASA website or listen to the podcast on their website.

Suicide Prevention

Youth in foster care, or with a history of foster care placement, are at greater risk of suicidal behavior. A new resource from the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) provides guidance for foster parents and other mentors on recognizing and responding to warning signs, getting professional help, enhancing mental health, and more.What Foster Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide provides links to additional resources for foster parents, teenagers and young people. The document was reviewed by foster parents for accuracy and appropriateness.

SPRC is a national resource center, primarily funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Visit for more information.

National CASA Podcast

Stephen McCrea, CASA Supervisor with CASA for Children in Portland, OR, talks about the history of mental health treatment of foster youth, including the introduction of psychotropic medications, their use now and what a CASA/GAL volunteer should know when working with medicated youth. Before working with the CASA program, McCrea was a crisis counselor and a residential counselor for  youth.Listen to this podcast on the National CASA website.