California CASA announced today, Friday, March 12, 2021, that it has published its 2019/2020 Impact Report, which reinforces the organization’s mission as it relates to helping serve the over 83,000 youth in California’s foster care system, local CASA programs, and Court Appointed Special Advocates. This year’s report also focuses on the unique actions the organization took in the wake of unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this exceptional year, the 44 CASA programs in our state experienced first-hand how difficult it was, at times, for children in foster care to get their basic needs met. California CASA also witnessed the dedication and resiliency of CASA staff, boards, and volunteers in their outstanding support of youth who have experienced abuse and neglect,” said CA CASA CEO Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq. “The 2019/2020 Impact Report showcases the strength of our network and the potential to serve even more children by recruiting, training, and overseeing a growing and more diverse group of volunteer advocates in each county.”
The title of this year’s report — Stronger Together— underscores the cooperative relationship of California CASA and the variety of community members that come together to care for children across the state. In the midst of these tumultuous times, California CASA’s flexibility enabled the organization to operate exceptionally in an environment where county and state guidelines shifted in unpredictable ways. This purposeful approach was enhanced by dedicated CASA staff and volunteers at individual CASA programs adapting to ever changing dependency court and public health requirements that impacted advocates and the youth they are connected to.
The report looks at the how California CASA managed a wide range of initiatives to strengthen the service, quality, and impact of Court Appointed Special Advocates around the state.
Summary of 2019/2020 Impact in California:
- 14,150 children in California foster had the support of a CASA volunteer.
- 8,798 Court Appointed Special Advocates worked on behalf of children.
- $17.6M+ worth of volunteer service hours were provided by CASA volunteers to foster youth.
- 6,628 hours of technical assistance were provided by California CASA to local CASA programs.
- $8.5M+ in funding was facilitated by California CASA for local CASA programs.
- 2500 local CASA staff and volunteers attended California CASA webinar training sessions.
California CASA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization ensuring that children and youth in California’s foster care system have both a voice and the services they need for a stable future. California CASA connects the 44 county CASA programs in the state in order to raise awareness of the need for Court Appointed Special Advocates and provides support, advice, resources, and oversight to maintain high-quality programs that serve children’s best interests. California CASA is a member of the National CASA/GAL Association for Children.
More information about California Court Appointed Special Advocates Association can be found here: CaliforniaCASA.org.
By Richmond Police Department
On Thursday, February 4th at approximately 6:30 pm Richmond Police Department Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call from an employee at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel at 3150 Garrity Way, in Richmond. The information received was a couple rushed out of the hotel with their infant baby telling the employee the child was not breathing and they were going to a hospital.
At 6:55 pm Richmond Communications Center received a phone call from Kaiser Hospital-Richmond stating they had a non-breathing five-week-old infant enter their emergency room. The child was pronounced deceased soon after arriving at the hospital.
Richmond Police officers converged on the hotel and hospital and immediately began an investigation that appeared to be child abuse resulting in death. The child had obvious signs of abuse. The Marriott Courtyard is currently being utilized by Contra Costa County to assist with housing unsheltered members of our community during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Richmond Police Department Homicide Unit was notified and assumed the investigation. Detectives responded to the Police Department to conduct interviews of both parents, they also met with other witnesses that were able to provide helpful information and followed up on other investigative leads to assist in the investigation.
The father, Ray Ray Darn (35-years-old) and mother Marilyn Northington (28-years-old) were ultimately arrested for murder and child abuse causing great bodily injury. The couple had two other small children that were taken into protective custody and turned over to Child Family Services (CFS). This case will be presented to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office early next week for review of criminal charges.
The City of Richmond Police Department is committed to solving crimes that occur in our city. We ask that any person, who may have any information related to this incident please contact Homicide Detective Brian Hoffman at (510) 621-1755, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or they can contact Richmond’s anonymous tip line at (510) 307-T1PS (8177).
Any media inquiries can be directed to Sergeant Aaron Pomeroy at (510) 620-6616 or email at email@example.com. RICHMOND POLICE CASE #2021-00001208
Through partnerships with New Day for Children and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Markstein is making a difference to stop this growing crime against children
Help Stop Human Trafficking by reporting a tip or seek help by calling the National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888
By Rebecca Butler
ANTIOCH, Calif. – As part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, Markstein Sales Company (Markstein), a woman-owned and operated wholesale beverage distributor in Northern California, today appealed to business leaders around the country to join in its fight against slavery and human trafficking. As a long-time supporter and sponsor of the New Day for Children organization that provides funding to help American children who have been recovered from sex trafficking, Markstein has also now joined a nationwide campaign with the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) where beer distributors, who collectively visit more than 600,000 retail establishments across the country, can play a vital role in identifying and reporting suspicious activity often unseen by the typical public.
“Rapidly escalating profits, the internet, limited police resources, and unaware communities have created a perfect storm for the child sex trafficking industry here in the United States. It is the second fastest growing criminal industry in our country, and one that employs sophisticated business practices and is highly lucrative,” said Sharon Wood, Executive Director of New Day for Children. “Today, the U.S. Justice Department estimates that 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked for sex in the United States. Through partnership with businesses, such as Markstein Sales Company, we can provide the funds and resources needed to transition many of these children to safe housing and therapeutic care, and help prevent it from happening to another one of our children.”
Human trafficking is a growing problem in the U.S., with more than 11,500 human trafficking cases reported in 2019 alone. California has consistently had the highest human trafficking rates in the United States with 1,507 cases reported in 2019. To help combat this, Markstein is installing signage on all of its 75 vehicles that are typically on the roads of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties 14 hours per day, six days per week. The goal of these signs is to raise awareness locally and to provide easy access to hotline information for people that suspect or know of human trafficking cases. Markstein is also providing personalized training, leveraged from both NBWA and New Day for Children, for all truck drivers and merchandisers so they know what to look out for on their daily routes and in the businesses they serve.
“While our work to end human trafficking began at the local level, this is a national problem that needs all business leaders to stand up and make a difference. I am calling on all companies to get involved locally with groups like New Day for Children and nationally with efforts like those sponsored by the NBWA,” said Laura Markstein, President of Markstein Sales Company. “Whether that involves a sign in a highly visible location or extra eyes and ears for identifying and reporting suspicious behavior, there are many companies such as beer distributors that are in a very public and unique position where they can make a significant difference to fight this cause.”
“Beer distributors have behind-the-scenes access to the prime locations where traffickers could be exploiting victims – from bars, restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, to package stores, sports arenas and grocery stores,” said Lauren Kane, Vice President of Communications, National Beer Wholesalers Association. “We commend the work Markstein Sales Company has already been doing locally with programs like New Day for Children. Combining this with their commitment to the NBWA Distributors Against Human Trafficking campaign, means they have the opportunity to significantly impact the fight against human trafficking. Beer distributors in other states have seen a 175% increase in calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline after they started educating their employees and putting signage on their trucks. We are confident Markstein’s efforts will bring similar life-changing results to California.
Call to Action
- If you are a beer distributor, join the campaign being spearheaded by the NBWA to build awareness and provide training to educate employees on recognizing and reporting the warning signs of human trafficking.
- If you are any other type of company that has vehicles, products or buildings that are constantly in the public eye, leverage your visibility to do your own campaign and encourage others in your industry to follow suit.
- Support and sponsor New Day for Children. This nationally recognized charity provides support and assistance to American girls, ages 10-18, who have been recovered from the despair of sex trafficking. Your financial support can provide safe housing, school, medical, mental health care, equine therapy, and much more.
- Take off the blinders. If you think this is not happening in your community, you are wrong. Every state, county, city, and town needs to help combat this nationwide crisis. This Markstein video outlines the problem and the ways companies and individuals can make a difference.
“I am proud to work for a company that provides the tools and training to turn an average workday into an opportunity to help in a big way,” said Dustin Miller, Commercial Driver, Markstein Sales Company. “As I go about my daily routes, I feel more empowered than ever before to play a part in preventing and stopping these horrible crimes against both children and adults.”
New Day for Children is a nationally recognized 501-(c)3 charity that provides support and assistance to American girls, ages 10-18, who have been recovered from the despair of sex trafficking. Your financial support provides safe housing, school, medical, mental health care, equine therapy and more. New Day for Children collaborates with quality programs for the children’s care. In this video you will see one such facility with New Day supported girls.
About Markstein Sales Company
Markstein Sales Company is a fourth-generation, woman-owned and operated wholesale beverage distributor based in Antioch, Calif. Founded in 1919 with just a horse, a wagon and six cases of beer, Markstein is now in its 101st year and distributing over four million cases annually to 1500 retailers in the Bay Area. The company’s portfolio is composed of multiple world-class beers including the Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands family of beers, several high-quality craft beers and many others. Markstein is known for outstanding customer service, dedication to their employees and commitment to the community. The company continues to rank as best in class by retailers and is one of the top ten largest Woman Owned Businesses in the Bay Area. More information can be found at https://www.marksteinsalescompany.com.
Contra Costa kids and families will have the opportunity to have a safe and socially distant Thanksgiving food drive-thru with local community members.
Moose Lodge 550 – With the holiday season approaching Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa decided to host a Thanksgiving drive-thru event. On Tuesday November 24, 2020, Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa will be taking over the Moose Lodge 550 parking lot and making it a family friendly drive-up Thanksgiving meal and backpack giveaway in a socially distant way! The event is a drive-thru event ONLY and will open to Contra Costa County families from 3:00 to 5:00 pm.
“We know times are tough right now for families throughout Contra Costa. Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa is committed to doing whatever it takes to support kids and families,” said Keirstan Faulkner, Director of Education of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa.
Our Thanksgiving event will include packages of turkey’s, mashed potatoes, vegetables, mac & cheese, bread, and some fun additional snacks! Families must drive in and remain in the car as they come to pick up their food.
Extra precautions have been put in place by Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa to help ensure the health and safety of all guests wishing to participate in this year’s Thanksgiving Celebration.
If you are interested in participating or donating any food or supplies, please contact Keirstan Faulkner via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any monetary donations to the organization will go towards our COVID-19 relief fund so we can continue to support our community when they need us the most.
Thanksgiving Holiday Food Giveaway with Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa is scheduled for Tuesday November 24th from 3pm to 5 PM PST.
What: Thanksgiving Holiday food giveaway with Boys & Girls Clubs of Contra Costa
When: Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
Where: Moose Lodge 550 at 4674 Appian Way, El Sobrante
For any additional information, please contact us at email@example.com
We believe every kid has what it takes to be happy and successful. The mission and core beliefs of Boys & Girls Clubs fuel our commitment to promoting safe, positive and inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit and get involved at https://www.bgccontracosta.org
By Brentwood Police Department
It was the call that every officer dreads to hear…
On September 20, 2020, at around 2:54 AM, Brentwood officers responded to a residence in the 50 block of Havenwood Ave. to investigate a report of an unresponsive 2 year-old child, later identified as Jasani Kerry. His mother, 22-year-old Genesis Barrera-Galdamez, had found him unresponsive and telephoned emergency personnel.
When officers and emergency personnel arrived on scene, they performed CPR for several minutes, however, Jasani was ultimately declared deceased. The preliminary investigation revealed drug paraphernalia and illicit drugs that later tested positive for fentanyl in the presence of Jasani preceding his death. Weeks later, a Contra Costa County Coroner’s pathologist determined Jasani’s cause of death was due to acute fentanyl intoxication.
Following an extensive follow-up investigation, Brentwood investigators prepared an arrest warrant for Genesis charging her with murder.
On October 30, 2020 at around 3:30 PM, investigators located Genesis at the Comfort Inn Hotel located at 2436 Mahogany Way in Antioch and took her into custody without incident. Genesis was booked at the Martinez Detention Facility on the outstanding arrest warrant.
Yesterday the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office formally charged Genesis with second-degree murder, possession of narcotics for sale, and child abuse resulting in death. Genesis is being held on $1.1 million dollar bail.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends who have been affected by this tragedy. The loss of any child is difficult for anyone to bear; we hope the arrest in this case can bring some peace to those affected.
Rest in peace Jasani.
Arraignment Scheduled For November 18
Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer Scott Alonso issued the following about the case Thursday morning:
Earlier this week, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed murder charges against Genesis Barrera-Galdamez (22-year-old resident of Brentwood) for the death of her two-year-old son, Jasani Kerry, Jr. Barrera-Galdamez was also charged with felony child abuse and felony possession of Fentanyl to sell. Two enhancements were also filed tied to the child abuse charge against the defendant: willful harm causing injury and great bodily injury resulting in brain damage and paralysis. The young child consumed fentanyl under the care of Barrera-Galdamez. The child’s autopsy report later ruled the toddler’s death was caused by Acute Fentanyl Toxicity.
Brentwood Police Department investigated the case and presented it to our Office for filing. Homicide Unit Supervisor Derek Butts reviewed the investigation and filed the charges listed above.
“While the Defendant did not intend that her son Jasani die, the evidence shows that she was aware her Fentanyl possession and use was dangerous to human life and despite this knowledge, exposed Jasani to the danger which ultimately led to his death, stated Deputy District Attorney Butts. “Well known amongst abusers, Fentanyl is an exceptionally toxic and dangerous substance. The act of exposing people to or supplying others with Fentanyl, if death results, can lead to murder charges.”
In the early morning hours of September 20, the defendant called police and stated her son was not breathing and non-responsive. She told the police that her son appeared blue and his body was very cold. CPR performed at the scene by Brentwood Police Officers and continued by American Medical Response personnel for over 30 minutes did not revive the boy. Officers at the scene located multiple items of drug paraphernalia on and around the bed the Defendant shared with Jasani, including 13 grams of powdered Fentanyl, baggies and tin foil pieces containing Fentanyl residue and a torch lighter.
After Jasani’s death, Barrera-Galdamez attempted to sell Fentanyl to multiple parties. Brentwood Police Department officers obtained a warrant for the arrest of the defendant on October 29th. The following day, Barrera-Galdamez was arrested at the Comfort Inn in Antioch, where she was engaging in Fentanyl sales.
Barrera-Galdamez made her first appearance in court yesterday and she remains in custody with bail set at $1,100,000. Her arraignment on the charges was set for November 18th.
Case information: People v. Genesis Barrera-Galdamez, Docket Number 04-200626-0.
Joint Statement by Bay Area Health Officers to prevent spreading COVID-19 among family and friends
Bay Area health officials remind residents that many commonly celebrated Halloween and Día de Los Muertos activities carry high risk for spreading COVID-19. Focusing on decorations, limiting activities to the people you live with, and virtual costume parties or contests will help keep our communities safe this season, especially our children. Together, we all need to do as much as we can to protect ourselves and those around us.
For instance, trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity, because it increases contact with people outside of your household who may not be as careful about COVID-19 prevention. Parties are high-risk because mixing among people who don’t live in the same home introduces more opportunities for the virus to pass from one person to another. Bay Area contact tracing has shown that gathering and mixing are key contributors to infection.
These holidays are no different than the rest of the year when it comes to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Stay home if you feel sick or have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19; wear a face covering whenever you leave home; and keep your distance from others (even relatives) who don’t live in your household, and remember that being outside is safer than being inside, especially in combination with face covering and keeping your distance. Consider using a themed cloth mask, as a costume mask is not a substitute. Avoid wearing a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
Contra Costa County residents are reminded that local and State Health Officer Orders are still in effect. Halloween gatherings, Día de los Muertos celebrations, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted unless they are conducted in compliance with local and State Health Orders.
Local health officials highly recommend community members participate in lower risk activities to celebrate Halloween and Día de Los Muertos this year:
LOWER RISK: Stay home, keep it small
- Celebrating Halloween traditions like carving pumpkins or a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in your home.
- Visiting an outdoor pumpkin patch, while wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others.
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at least 6 feet apart while wearing masks, with a very small group of neighbors or friends. Fewer people with more distance is safer.
- Having a virtual costume contest.
- Dressing up your house, apartment, living space, yard or car with Halloween decoration or decorating homes with images and objects to honor deceased loved ones.
- Preparing traditional family recipes with members of your household.
- Playing music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed.
- Making and decorating masks or making an altar for the deceased.
- Participating in vehicle-based gatherings that comply with state and local guidance like drive-in movies and drive-through attractions, or car/bike parades where participants do not leave their vehicles.
- Avoid driving in areas where there are many pedestrians.
- Spectators should watch from their homes or yards and not gather with people they do not live with.
MODERATE RISK: If you must
- Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to physically distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard).
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
- Ensure everyone is wearing an appropriate face covering and maintaining a physical distance from others.
- Everyone participating should bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently AND wash their hands immediately after coming home.
- Candy shouldn’t be eaten while outside the home because that would require both removing the face mask and touching wrappers.
- Having a very small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade or movie night where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart and are wearing masks. Fewer people with more distance is safer.
- Enjoying themed outdoor dining that complies with state and local guidance or takeout.
HIGHER RISK: Please avoid
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door. Although this activity is outdoors, it is higher risk because it brings multiple people from different households together.
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19. Doing so can bring COVID-19 into the area and threaten the residents’ lives.
- If trick-or-treating is occurring in your neighborhood and you are at home and do not want to be disturbed, you may want to post a sign or turn off your porch light.
VERY HIGH RISK: Not permitted by State and Local Orders
- Attending a crowded party held indoors or outdoors. Large gatherings, even if they are outdoors, are high risk for spreading COVID-19 and are associated with many cases throughout the Bay Area.
- Sharing, eating, drinking, speaking loudly or singing amongst others outside of your household.
- Haunted houses or indoor mazes
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
To further protect yourself and your loved ones, be sure to monitor yourself during the 14 days after these holidays and pay particular attention from days 3 – 7 after the holidays when you are most likely to develop symptoms. If you don’t feel well or you learn someone you had close contact with tested positive, get tested immediately and stay home until your appointment and while you wait for your results.
To learn more about symptoms and testing, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.
Contra Costa Health Services’ Public Health Nursing Car Seat Project will help parents and caregivers keep their children as safe as possible in the car thanks to a $83,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
The one-year grant from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 funds a car seat education program that encourages the proper installation and use of child safety seats.
The grant funds the following activities:
- One-on-one/virtual appointments to inspect and install car seats.
- Child safety seat education classes for parents and caregivers.
- Child safety seats at no-cost to nursing case management clients and low-income families following education classes.
- Promote safety seat recycling and importance of discarding used and expired car seats
- Work with community partners to promote child passenger safety education.
“The Public Health Nursing Program in Contra Costa County serves vulnerable, low-income families who are impacted daily by health inequities,” said Program Manager Michelle Rivero, Program. “Our families struggle with meeting the basic needs of the children. Rent, food, clothing all become priorities over car seats, and many of our families use old, expired car seats. This program is a much-needed resource to help keep children safe.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46% of car seats are misused.
“Car seats save lives,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “Keeping children safe in a vehicle is as important as ever, and funding for car seat programs play a vital role in ensuring the proper use of child safety seats.”
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To find the right car seat for your child, click here.
For more information contact Rivero at (925) 608-5119 or Child Passenger Safety Technician, Jessica Recinos, at (925) 532-2152.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
Moderators include Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, NBC Bay Area’s Candice Nguyen
Citizens will have opportunity to be a party to political leaders discussing sexual assault prevention and survivor empowerment
Zoom – This town hall is to allow survivors, politicians, and non-profit leaders to engage and brainstorm tangible policy changes and actions to support survivors. We look forward to holding a space to hear potent testimonies of the struggles victims have endured post attack, to listen to the demands of victims, and to address the flaws in our criminal justice system. This will be a platform for a conversation and a chance for leaders to reflect on the direct impact they could have on victims’ lives through their policy decisions.
“I knew we needed to get the people who can make change happen in the same room,” said The Yellow Heart Committee Founder N’dea Johnson. “Getting people together, especially during COVID, is never easy. But the work we’re doing, and the education we’re spreading, it’s just too important to wait.”
The virtual town hall is scheduled for October 17th, 2020 at 4 PM PST/7 PM EST. It consists of three panels: Urgency of the Issue, Reimagining Support for Survivors, and Addressing Necessary Policy Changes. In addition, there will be testimonials from survivors, and a panel of political figures. They are listed below.
US Congressman Eric Swalwell
US Congressman Mike Thompson
CA State Assemblymember Rob Bonta
CA State Assemblymember Shirley Weber
CA State Assemblymember Tim Grayson
SC State House Candidate Dr. Jermaine Johnson
Antioch City Council Member Monica Wilson
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan
President of Alliance For Hope International Casey Gwinn
CEO of Love Never Fails Vanessa Russell
President of SF Pride Carolyn Wysinger
CA State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan
NBC Investigative Reporter and Survivor Candice Nguyen
Suisun City Vice Mayor Wanda Williams
What: Virtual Zoom Town Hall
When: Saturday, October 17, 2020
Where: Zoom. Register Here: https://bit.ly/3mJ9yiv
For any additional information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Yellow Heart Committee is an organization that is mobilizing to help survivors of trauma through policy making and community outreach. For more information, please visit and get involved at https://www.yellowheartcommittee.com/