The Advocate Advisor
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
 
May/June 2017
 
Program Notes
By Pat Creighton 
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Spring is here…signaling new growth and new beginnings! At CASA, we have welcomed a new Development Director, Shannon Wilson, a new Special Projects Manager/technology expert, Pat Riley, and a new Administrative Coordinator, Nancy Dunworth.
 
In Program, we are introducing our new GIFT (Guiding Infants, Families, and Tots) Program and growing our CFE (Collaborative Family Engagement) and PMC efforts. 
  • This year to date, we have served 517 children, (an 11% increase over the previous year) and advocated for 175 new children (an increase of 30% over last year).   
  • We have sworn in 60 new Advocates, and a total of 229 volunteers have served as CASA Advocates this year.
As we work to strengthen community resources and lobby for legislative changes, it is important to review our own progress and renew our efforts to improve outcomes and ensure brighter futures for the children who come into our care.  I am proud to serve this organization and consider myself privileged to work with all of you.  You are, in one word, AMAZING!
 
Sincerely,
 
Program Director

 
Give Where You Live
By Shannon Wilson
 
 
We’ve all heard the adage “Give Where You Live”, and there is no group that personifies that phrase better than CASA Child Advocates. You and your fellow Advocates are putting that phrase into action every time you visit with your children, go to court, meet with the school counselors and all the other activities you so generously spend your time doing in order to make sure our children end up in safe, nurturing and permanent homes. 
 
I’m willing to bet when you’ve shared with your family and friends about your responsibility with CASA, you’ve heard something like “Oh, I could never do that. It would be too hard for me to see the children in such unsafe circumstances.”, or “Oh, I could never do that, I don’t have that much time to give.” Or any number of other reasons why they could never give to CASA at the same level you are with your advocacy. 
 
Feel free to answer them with something like “there are lots of ways to give to CASA. If you don’t have time to give, you can make a financial gift.” Let them know that every gift to CASA, no matter how great or how small, helps us recruit and train more Advocates to further our mission and our goal of continuing to provide an Advocate for every single child in foster care in Montgomery County.
 
Thank you for all you do for CASA, and please send any referrals my direction. I can help them Give Where THEY Live!
 
With gratitude,
Development Director
(281) 770-5199
 
 

 
By Kim Ayres
 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
 
Q: What should I know when my CASA child returns to school from a psychiatric hospital? How can I help?
A: Hospitalizations can be short or long term stays. Each hospital will have their own policies and procedures. Each child’s story and return to school will require a unique response.
 
*If the child is hospitalized for multiple days, he/she may have to be officially reenrolled when they return.
 
Reasons for this include:
  1. The student changes placement and school following the hospitalization.
  2. If the student isn’t withdrawn from school, the student loses “seat time” while they’re away. Too many days off of the home campus can result in lost transcript credits for secondary students.
  3. The student attends school in the hospital setting and a different school district may have been the curriculum provider.
*The student may return to his/her home campus with a new or different medical or psychiatric diagnosis.
 
Best practice if this occurs:
  1. If the student is enrolled in special education or HB504 programming, a reentry ARD or transition meeting will occur. New medical/psychiatric information will be reviewed and decisions for placement and programming will be updated as needed.
  2. If the student was not previously eligible for special services, it is possible that educational adjustments (i.e. accommodations) may now be needed. Assistant principals, counselors and school nurses usually take the lead role in reintegrating the student.
  3. In the most serious of situations, the school officials will be invited to the “exit” meeting at the hospital. His/her physician may recommend temporary or long term homebound services, half days or a step-up schedule.
*The student's emotional and social needs should be considered.
 
   Reintegration considerations:
  1. The student has been away from all his/her known routines.
  2. The student will have missed sequence of curriculum.
  3. The student may be faced with uncomfortable questions from peers.
  4. The reason behind the hospitalization may have connection to the school.
   Assistance from CASA looks like:
  1. Assurance to the child.
  2. Staying connected with the hospital staff to the maximum extent allowed.
  3. Staying connected to school staff to ensure proper placement and programming.

 
Monthly Education Committee Meetings:
Monthly education committee meetings are held the 4th Wednesday of each month from 2-4 pm at the CASA office. Advocates are encouraged to contact your supervisor and/or Kim Ayres with immediate needs. 
 
Please consider utilizing this resource of veteran educators if you have questions or concerns about your CASA child’s education. No question is too big or too small. We are here for you!
 
HELPFUL LINKS:
 

 
CASA Creativity Design Challenge Deadline Extended. We Need Your Help!
By Alli Stephens
Article ImageThe orginal deadline for the CASA Creativity Design Challenge has been extended to Friday, May 26, 2017. 
 
What is the Creativity Challenge? 
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is currently seeking creative, talented youth to design the artwork for its next CASA Superhero Run t-shirt. For the past seven years, CASA has hosted a 5K/10K trail run fundraising & awareness event through W.G. Jones State Forest in Montgomery County. All participants in the run receive a special, commemorative t-shirt. CASA Child Advocates believes we should go straight to our youth and young adults for the best design ideas for this year’s shirt. By providing an original design, one lucky child/young adult can see his or her vision come to life in the Fall of 2017!
 
So how can you help? Number one on the eligibility and requirements list is "Applicant must have a CASA Child Advocate." Our only way to reach out to our youth and let them know about this fun and exciting opportunity is through YOU. When you visit your CASA child this month, take some art supplies with you (see Vicki Bradley's article below about supplies available in the CASA Toy Room...), and encourage the child/youth to create something based on the question, "What does your CASA mean to you?"
 
Please note, children of all ages and artistic abilities are encouraged to participate! Even if their design is not selected for the shirt, we hope to be able to use their creations for other CASA purposes.
 
A completed and signed entry form is required when submitting artwork, and for children under the age of 18, signature of the legal guardian is also needed. Download the form HERE and print as needed. Submission instructions are also included on the form.
 
Thank you for your help, and please contact me directly if you have any questions. 
 
Marketing & Communications Director
(361) 946-1821

 
Plan Your Visit to the CASA Toy Room and Book Store 
By Vicki Bradley
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Did you know that there are school supplies in the Toy Room for CASA kids? Help your child finish out the school year and start summer with some new supplies: pencils, pens, notebooks, glue, crayons, construction paper, and more. We even have some small plastic containers for the little items. There are also tutoring and learning books on the bookshelves in the front office.
 
Remember, everything in the Toy Room and on the bookshelves in the front office has been donated to CASA for our kids! These items are just waiting for you to take for visits, birthdays, and holidays. Please be sure to take advantage of this amazing resource!
 
 

 
Annual Advocate Recruitment Campaign is Postponed Amid Search for New Recruiting Manager
By Alli Stephens
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As you may have realized, the annual Advocate recruitment campaign has been postponed while we search for a new Recruiting Manager. The campaign WILL be rescheduled for later this year, so be on the lookout for more details and information in the coming months. If you are interested in the Recruiting Manager position, please visit the CAREERS PAGE on our website for a full job description and application instructions.
 
The monthly information sessions, Conversations with CASA, will continue as scheduled.
 
 

 
 
Upcoming Events
 
MAY 2017
New Advocate Swearing-In, 9:00 am
10 Conversations with CASA (evening event) at The Refuge Bar & Bistro, 5:00-7:00 pm
10 MonthlyTime & Mileage Log due to Case Supervisors (plus mileage reimbursement request and supporting documentation, if applicable)
14 Mother's Day
17 Conversations with CASA (morning event) at La Madeleine Country French Café, 9:00-11:00 am
24 CASA Education Committee Meeting at the CASA office from 2:00-4:00 pm
26 Deadline extended for the CASA Creativity Design Challenge
 
JUNE 2017
6 New Advocate Training Class Begins, 9:00 am - 4 pm (Tuesday-Thursday)
10 MonthlyTime & Mileage Log due to Case Supervisors (plus mileage reimbursement request and supporting documentation, if applicable)
12 New Advocate Swearing In, 9:00 am
14 Conversations with CASA (evening event) at The Refuge Bar & Bistro 5:00-7:00 pm
21 Conversations with CASA (morning event) at La Madeleine Country French Café, 9:00-11:00 am
28 CASA Education Committee Meeting at the CASA office, 2:00-4:00pm
 
2017 CASA Volunteer Appreciation Reception 
 
 
 
 
 
The 2017 CASA Volunteer Appreciation Reception, hosted by CASA Staff and Board Members, was held on Saturday, April 29th at Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church in The Woodlands.
 
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County could not function without our amazing team of more than 250 volunteers, including Advocates, event chairs and committee members, and others. These individuals give of their time and talent to support CASA's mission of continuing to provide an Advocate for every abused and neglected child in need in Montgomery County.
 
The more than 100 event attendees were welcomed by CASA Execitive Director, Ann McAlpin, and CASA Board Chair, Jim Funke. Case Supervisor, Gwen Box, presented the Advocate of the Year award to Judith Bartok, and Case Supervisor, Marilyn McQueeney, recognized the Rookie Advocates of the Year, David and Jeanie Catino.
 
 
 
An 11 Year Service Award was presented to Advocate, Robyn West, and 10 Year Service Awards were presented to Rose Mary Bundscho, Denise Inman, Julie Krenz, Sherry Mayhill, Terry Mayhill, Susan Olver, and Patricia Spahr.
 
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County would like to thank Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church for donation of the hall, Judith Bartok for arranging this generous donation, Jude Compofelice for underwriting table settings and decor, and Maureen Hamric for donating her catering services and preparing a fantastic meal.
The Volunteer Council Corner
By Susan Olver
 
The Volunteer Council hosted a very well-attended and informative Advocate Gathering in March concerning our court experience.  Many questions were answered, and the discussion provided Advocates with updates on testifying, jury and bench trials, and our appearance in Judge Winfree’s courtroom. We also enjoyed socializing and meeting other Advocates.
 
There will be another Advocate Gathering in May, date to be announced. We are hoping to have one of the CPS Supervisors speak to us about our work with their staff, and answer questions on how we can work together more effectively and give us general information on procedure. 
 
Please watch for a separate email in early May with information on time and location. This will be an evening gathering.
 
Attendance at these events provides two hours of our required continuing education hours.
 
Please contact Susan Olver at casasolver@gmail.com with any questions or comments.

 
Your CASA Team!
 
Executive Director
 
Program Director
 
CASE SUPERVISORS:
 
 
Vicki Bradley Staff Support Specialist 
Nancy Dunworth – Administrative Coordinator
Susan McCormick – Database Administrator
Pat Riley – Special Projects Manager
Wanda Smith – Training Director
Alli Stephens – Marketing and Communications Director
Shannon Wilson – Development Director
Celebrating Advocate Anniversaries
By Pat Creighton
 
MAY
 
11 Years
Frank Toms
Robyn West
 
8 Years
Ann McAlpin
Patti Sexton
 
7 Years
Melissa Payne
Greg Gilmore
 
6 Years
Heather Vaughn
 
4 Years
Sherry Lane
Paige Mann
 
3 Years
Stacy Laycock
 
2 Years
Deborah Kubera
Patty Rangasajo-Drake
Shirley Jensen
Ashley Borden
Corinna Rios
 
1 Year
Marie Murphey
Patrick Conlon
Michelle Lewis
Sara Russell
Renee Gonzalez
Philecia Moore
 
JUNE
 
4 Years
Wanda Woodworth
 
3 Years
Judi Foster
Cheryl Baehr
Rebecca Grubert
 
1 Year
Deborah Chapman
Jennifer Gallup
Donna Summers
Sandra Mahler
Andrew Persson
Samantha Hunt
Bobbie Amend
Sholpan Jukatayeva
Meredith Watts
Pamela Rall
Teresa Kenney
Miriam Reed
Julie Davis
Donna Horton

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Address postal inquiries to:
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
412 West Phillips Ste. 107
Conroe, TX 77301