The Advocate Advisor
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
 
Nov./Dec. 2016
Program Notes
By Pat Creighton 
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The CASA numbers are in for 2016 and we have much to celebrate. 
 
This year, 81 of you joined as new volunteers and 2 of you returned.  
 
This year, 238 of you served 556 children and advocated for 188 new children who entered the system. 
 
This year, you found permanent homes for 186 children and helped 28 youths prepare for adulthood.  
 
This year, 97% of our children were served by a volunteer and only 3% were served by staff. 
 
This year, you made a difference for 100% of the children in care in Montgomery County!
 
As an organization, we were selected to participate in the Collaborative Family Engagement Pilot… a unique program designed to work with families and build a network of lifelong support for our children.
 
As an organization, we participated in a best practice PMC Pilot designed to meet the special needs of those children who are waiting permanency in the care of CPS.
 
As an organization, we worked with community members to provide a “Back to School” party, an amazing Christmas extravaganza, and a celebration for our graduating youth
 
As an organization, we danced the night away and ran through the woods to raise funds to support our cause.  We arranged college campus tours and life skill classes for our teens, organized a Bike Rodeo, and provided an appreciation luncheon for our CPS colleagues. 
 
As an organization, we made a difference!
 
With all of that said, our journey is far from over and we have much more to do.  In September, 26 children came into care…a 136% increase over the same month last year and, as of October 10, we have 27 more children.  While I worry about the how, I know in my heart that we will.  We will because I have seen the look in your eyes when you talk about your CASA child.  We will because failure is just not an option!  
 
Sincerely,
 
Pat Creighton
Program Director

 
HELP! We Need Your Vote!
By Alli Stephens
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Election time is upon us! No, I'm not talking about THAT election... We (CASA) have a special request for your help! Will you please cast your vote for our video submission in the 2016 CASA Spirit Award Video Contest hosted by Texas CASA?
 
 
Texas CASA asked local CASA programs to create and submit a short video that shows off their program’s unique CASA Spirit – and the results were amazing. The CASA Spirit encompasses the passion, excitement and pride that drives the CASA network in Texas towards reaching our goal of a CASA volunteer for every child.
 
Naturally, this can mean a variety of things and can be shown in a variety of ways, so we need your help to prove that CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County shows the most CASA Spirit! Check out all of the videos on the website and then vote for your favorite video (hint, hint...) by using the voting form. The video to receive the most votes by October 31 will win the 2016 CASA Spirit Award!
 

 
Legislative Outlook
By Ann McAlpin
 
Mark your calendars! The CASA Day at the Capitol is coming up on February 16, 2017. What is the CASA Day at the Capitol? This one-day event is attended by hundreds of CASA volunteers and staff from across the state during the Texas legislative session. The day normally begins with a briefing of big picture issues for the Legislative Session, an overview of any new legislation in process and detailed information on Texas CASA legislative priorities. The day continues with panel discussions and a keynote address. If you're interested in being a part of the 2017 CASA Day at the Capitol, please let your supervisor know.
 
Also, if anyone wants to join the Legislative Committee, now is the time. The Legislative Committee will work between now and February to get appointments with all of our local legislators, to talk about the issues that are important to us (starting with a list from Texas CASA), and to tell stories about our work with the kids.
 
Again, please let your supervisor know if you would like to be on the Legislative Committee, OR go to the Day at the Capitol, OR go on any of the visits with Legislative Committee members when they meet our legislators – to be able to talk about what we do with kids.
 
We will most likely ask for Advocates to come forward with specific stories when the legislative priorities are finalized, so be on the lookout for that request. Thank you all for the amazing work you do to change the future for these children, and I hope to see you at the Capitol in February!

 
By Kim Ayres
 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS...
 
Q: I’ve been invited to attend an ARD meeting? What do I need to know?
A: You are joining a multidisciplinary team comprised of  
  • School administrator or his/her designee
  • Assessment personnel (I.e. diagnostician, school psychologist, speech therapist, etc.)
  • Special education teacher
  • General education teacher, and
  • Parent(s)
  • Other professionals may also be in attendance depending on the related services of your CASA child.
 
ARD is the acronym for Admission, Review and Dismissal. Any and all decisions for eligibility and placement are made in an ARD committee meeting. A task or event has occured prior to this meeting and the committee is gathering to come to consensus on recommendations.
 
Examples:
  1. An assessment has been completed and it is time to review the findings and use it to make educational decisions.
  2. A student’s behavior has changed negatively or positively and a behavior intervention plan or update is needed.
  3. It’s time to review the child’s annual goals. Success on the goals will bring new goals. Lack of success will bring a revisiting of the curriculum standards, methods and necessary instructional modifications.
  4. The student is transitioning between grades or schools and a review and/or update is needed. There are other reasons but these are most common.
If you are attending as a CASA Advocate, your role is to listen and add information that might support or deny a particular recommendation (i.e. homework difficulties). The greatest majority of the recommendations are made and input into the data base prior to the meeting.
 
Tips: It is ok for you to ask ahead of time what’s being recommended. The very best way for this to occur is for you to have established a relationship with the special education teacher/case manager before the actual meeting. If you’re in the loop, you will know ahead of time what classes and/or modifications and/or behavior goals are being brought to the team. Rule of thumb… no surprises from them or from you.
 
If you are attending as the educational consenter (a role that generally goes to the caretaker) or as a surrogate parent, you have greater influence. Now, you are in the "parent" role and you're included in those who are being asked for consensus. You will definitely want to inquire ahead of time what you're agreeing (or not agreeing) to.
 
 
Q: What if the educational consenter doesn’t attend the meeting?
 
A: This becomes a teaching opportunity from you to them. They may believe that they are not welcome or not valuable. Occasionally, they are left off the invitation list altogether or told they should participate by phone.
 
These thoughts and other miscommunication needs to be addressed. The “parent” is SO valuable. They are your CASA child’s voice at school just as if they were the biological parent. In a perfect world, they should be exactly who you are to your own children…being sure of needed school supplies, accessing and transporting to extracurricular events, providing structured study time, coordinating tutoring, communicating with school staff…   
 
Tips: Encourage a strong connection between school and home by asking questions of the caretaker and the child(ren) about all of the things listed previously and help them set up and maintain any systems that are lacking.
Monthly Education Committee Meetings:
Because of the holidays, there are no meetings scheduled in November and December. Advocates are encouraged to contact your supervisor and/or Kim Ayres with immediate needs. Regular schedule will resume the 4th Wednesday of the month in January.
 
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:
 

 
Following Fostering Futures
By Fawn Dennis
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The next two Fostering Futures trainings will be Wednesday November 30 and Wednesday December 14 from 9am to 3pm.  If you advocate for a teen or would like to advocate for a teen, please take this training! You will learn best practices in advocating for teens - we discuss circles of support, education, and the Pal program.
 
Fostering Futures will also be taking a group of youth on a collage campus tour of Sam Houston State University on November 21 at 10am.  If you would like to arrange for you and your youth to join please let me know: Fawn@CASASpeaks4Kids.com.

 
The Volunteer Council Corner
By Susan Olver
2016 CPS Appreciation Luncheon
 
We had a wonderful turnout for our Advocate Support Gathering - learning about the tools being used for the CFE program.  Many thanks to Advocate Jane Funke for her presentation, and to Marilyn McQueeny for attending and providing support.
 
We are planning another Advocate Support Gathering in November.  This will be an evening meeting, date and subject to be announced.  Please watch your email for news in early November.  We all agree that meeting other Advocates in an informal setting provides a much needed, extra measure of support.
 
The annual "Jingle Bell" Christmas Party planning is underway.  The party will be held on Saturday, December 3, and is a tremendous undertaking sponsored by a consortium of non profits in Montgomery County. These include local ministries, DFPS, CASA, Angel Reach and other groups that serve on an advisory committee planning events for kids in foster care.  We expect close to 600 youth and their caregivers in attendance this year.
 
CASA’s role is to coordinate the gift organization for the party.  We don’t need to solicit gifts for the kids, but as gifts are donated, organize the ‘toy room’.  ** We are looking for an advocate that would be willing to ‘shadow’ the person currently handling this, and then take on the 2017 leadership role. **   Please contact Susan Olver at 281-250-1917 or casasolver@gmail.com if you’re interested.

 
Celebrating Advocate Anniversaries
By Pat Creighton
One Year Anniversary - Nov/Dec
Bubier, Kirsten 11/19/2015
Hendricks, Jeanie 11/19/2015
Jeter, Carol 11/19/2015
Meyer, Christen 11/19/2015
Spratt, Janice 11/19/2015
 
Two Year Anniversary - Nov/Dec
Barker, Alysia 11/17/2014
Calvert, Jennifer 11/17/2014
de Boer, Nicole 11/17/2014
Dumas, Laura 11/17/2014
Gavion, Rhonda 11/17/2014
Hafer, Cara 11/17/2014
Mayo, Lorin 11/17/2014
Morey, Courtney 11/17/2014
Nichols, Amy 11/17/2014
 
Three Year Anniversary - Nov/Dec
Caddock,Helen Dec, 2013
Bullard,Kathryn Dec, 2013
Brown,Julie Dec, 2013 
 
Four Year Anniversary - Nov/Dec
Tabarini,Charlotte Dec, 2012
Teall,Dave Dec, 2012
Dixon,Nina Dec, 2012 
 
Five Year Anniversary - Nov/Dec
Nedelka,Leszlie Dec, 2011
Balke,Paula Dec, 2011 
 
Six Year Anniversary - Nov/Dec
French,Rina Dec, 2010
 
Upcoming Events
 
NOVEMBER 2016
03-05 Texas CASA Conference: Westin Dallas Park Central, Dallas
05 New Advocate Training Class Begins (Nights & Weekends)
09 Adoption Day!
09 Conversations with CASA (evening event) at The Refuge Bar & Bistro 5:00-7:00 pm
12 Celebrate Me!, at The Loft, Woodlands United Methodist Church, 9:00 am-4:00 pm 
14 New Advocate Swearing In & Celebration, 9:00 am
16 Conversations with CASA (morning event) at La Madeleine Country French Café, 9:00-11:00
19 4th Annual Fostering Hope Texas Summit at WoodsEdge Community Church, 8:30 am - 3:15 pm 
21 Fostering Futures Campus Tour at Sam Houston State University (Huntsville), 10:00 am 
29 New Advocate Training Class Begins (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
30 Fostering Futures Training Class at CASA, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
 
DECEMBER 2016
03 "Jingle Bell" Christmas Party at WoodsEdge Community Church, 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
12 New Advocate Swearing In & Celebration, 9:00 am
14 Fostering Futures Training Class at CASA, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
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
 
JANUARY 2017
21 2017 CASA Speaks for Kids “Evening at the Museum” Gala: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, 6:00 pm - Midnight
25 CASA Education Committee Meeting
 
FEBRUARY 2017
16 CASA Day at the Capitol
 
Big Success! 3rd Annual CASA Bike Rodeo 
By Patti Sexton and Gwen Box
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The 3rd annual Bike Rodeo was held on Saturday, October 15th at Snyder Elementary School. 30 children/youth attended, and we're happy to report that EVERY CHILD went home with a new bicycle & helmet.
 
We were able to raise $1,500 for this year's event through a GoFundMe campaign, and we'd like to thank Lorenzo Blas, Debra Cooper, Beverly Dickerson, Melanie Browne, Whitney Montgomery and our one anonymous donor for helping to provide 15 bikes and helmets!
 
We also want to thank our event underwriters and supporters: Amazing Spaces, Chick-Fil-A, Conroe I.S.D., Conroe I.S.D. Police Department, Crane CPE, Montgomery Pet Partners, Raising Cane's, Square Cow Movers, and Walmart Conroe. This event would not have been possible without you.
 

 
2016 Texas CASA Conference:
 
 
This year's registration is SOLD OUT!
 
Through the power of the many voices that make up the CASA community, we can strengthen our network and grow to serve all the children in care – creating a brighter future for Texas children both today and tomorrow.
 
Texas CASA will bring together more than 650 members of the CASA network in Dallas from November 3-5 for three days of speakers, workshops and institutes.
 
 
 
 
 
For more information, visit the website:
 
Your CASA Team!
 
Executive Director
 
Program Director
 
CASE SUPERVISORS:
 
Judi Foster – Director of Recruiting
Doris LaStrappe – Administrative Assistant
Susan McCormick – Database Administrator
Wanda Smith – Training Director
Alli Stephens – Marketing and Communications Director
Advocates Share Experiences, Encourage and Recruit New Volunteers
By Judi Foster
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CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County offers two informational events each month, specifically designed to give anyone who is considering becoming an Advocate a chance to gain insight into this unique and rewarding role. Hosted by the Advocate Recruitment Committee, guests can sit down, one-on-one, with current CASA volunteers to discuss their questions and concerns, and hear first-hand the difference Advocates make in children’s lives.
 
 
For more information, please contact Judi Foster: Judi@CASASpeaks4Kids.com.
 

 
Save the Date: 2017 CASA Speaks for Kids Gala
 
Article ImageYou are invited to be a part of the 2017 CASA Speaks for Kids, “Evening at the Museum” Gala on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. This year’s Gala Committee is in the process of planning a memorable event, and your involvement in this important fundraiser is the key to our success. We’ll bring history to life at our event, where stellar entertainment and exclusive auction items are part of this evening filled with unique experiences!
 
Read full article (See page 11).
 

 
2016 CASA Superhero Run Recap
By Alli Stephens
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On Saturday, October 1, 2016, more than 375 "Superheroes" for abused and neglected children laced up their running shoes for the 7th annual CASA Superhero Run through W.G. Jones State Forest. We would like to thank those who made this year's event a success!
 
 
Thank you, event participants! 
 
Thank you to our Race Director, Deanne Biles, and the entire Race Planning Committee! 
 
If you are interested in sponsoring, planning, or volunteering to help in 2017, please contact me: Alli@CASASpeaks4Kids.com.

 

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