F O R I M M E D I A T E R E L E A S E
CASA PACIFICA CENTERS FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
A California Non-profit 501(C)(3)
Contact: Carrie Hughes
For: Assignment Editor
Casa Pacifica Hosts 1st Annual Children’s Policy Forum, Bringing State and Local Officials Together
Camarillo, CA – Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families hosted its first ever Children’s Policy Forum via Zoom on Friday, January 29th. Opening remarks emphasizing the importance of the forum were given by Director of California Department of Health Care Services Will Lightbourne, Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, Senator Monique Limón (SD 10), Assemblymember Steve Bennett (AD 37), Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (AD 44), and Ventura County CEO Michael Powers. Senator Limón had high hopes for the meeting saying, “I hope that what comes out of this is a way to connect the practice, the lived experiences, with the policy. That’s not just helpful to the region but helpful state wide.” After thanking the Senator and Assemblymembers for their presence Powers commended “their unwavering commitment to families struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues, but also their commitment to listening to the local realities of what youth and families are facing.”
In addition to county and state leaders, numerous agencies were represented including: UCLA, California Alliance of Child & Family Services, Helpline Youth Counseling, and the California Children’s Trust. Over 100 attendees spent the morning listening to panelists offer their thoughts and experiences on the central topic: “Fostering Recovery for Youth and Families.”
Panel topics included: Defining the Problem: A Provider & County Perspective, Effective & Promising Substance Use Services for Youth and Relevant Policy Considerations, Invaluable Insight: Hearing from Individuals with Lived Experience, and What are the Opportunities ahead of us? An inarguable highlight of the forum was hearing directly from Peter Gelber, a long-time Casa Pacifica Parent Partner who also has lived experience with family substance abuse issues and Savannah Simpson, a 22-year old who spent time in the Ventura County foster care system, both spoke on their experience with substance use disorder care and supports. The powerful testimonies were a stark reminder of not only the benefits of the services available but the system’s short-comings as well.
Forum organizer, Marika Collins, Casa Pacifica’s Public Policy Officer noted the importance of open dialog between mental health professionals and county and state officials, “Nothing makes my heart smile more than connecting people that share a common mission. In this case, improving the lives of children and families with substance use issues. Given the numerous dedicated professionals in Sacramento within the various child serving state agencies as well as the leaders within Ventura County, it just seemed like the logical thing to do: bring state and county policymakers, decision makers, along with service providers and most importantly, the recipients of services, together to learn from one another. I think the forum was a perfect example of the synergy created when bringing folks together to seek solutions to the challenges we face.”
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Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families is a crisis-care and residential treatment facility for foster or at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. It’s mission is to restore hope, enhance resilience, and strengthen community connections for children, young adults and families at the most challenging times of their lives. The agency is the largest non-profit provider of children’s mental health services in both counties and administers a number of community-based programs designed to strengthen families and keep children in their homes and communities. Casa Pacifica is also a foster family agency, which recruits and trains families for potential placement with a foster youth. For more information about Casa Pacifica visit its website www.casapacifica.org or call the Development & Public Relations Department at (805) 445-7800.