Spring 2020
Originally published in Northeast Georgia CASA’s E-Newsletter, December 2019

A couple of years after retiring from the Fulton County School Board, Linda Schultz was considering volunteer opportunities in her community. Having served in a policy role for much of her later career, she missed connecting and engaging with children directly. She also realized the value of investing in children. The CASA mission was a natural fit and she has been an incredible protective resource for children in foster care since completing her training in the Spring of 2018.

Linda is nearing her two year anniversary as a child advocate and is still speaking up for the three girls that were appointed to her in March of 2018. It has not been an easy case. The girls had been removed from their home and placed in foster care because of parental substance abuse, but as the case progressed, numerous allegations and suspicions of abuse arose. Such cases can evoke a powerful emotional response, making it hard to stay focused on the "child's best interest." But Linda respectfully and diligently brings to the forefront of the court's attention the needs of the children. In maelstroms of debate about the parents and the services that should be provided to them, Linda has kept her focus on the children. She has ensured that medical needs were attended to for one of the girls who was suffering from an eye condition. If the procedure had not been done, the child could have lost the use of her eye. Despite significant trauma suffered by the girls, no counseling was being offered to them due to a shortage of services available. Linda's detailed report to the judge, which included a recommendation for counseling and trauma services, prompted the court to order that these services be put into place. Linda gives volume to what the girls feel and say. She always reminds everyone involved with the case how much the children love their mother, and because of that she has been a proponent of ensuring that visitation occur whenever safely possible.

Throughout this case Linda has been a steady voice of reason among the tensions of a family unraveling. Getting children what they need is the most important part of any case. Linda stays abreast of the current events of the children's lives, and does an excellent job keeping the many agencies and parties involved with these siblings aware of what they need. Northeast Georgia CASA is glad that Linda is among the ranks of our dedicated volunteers and thanks her for changing the story of these three girls.

Update as of Spring 2020 - After two years, efforts by the parents to provide a safe, stable home stagnated. Linda urged the court to consider adoption for the girls. The case is moving in that direction now, and the father has terminated his rights. The girls are doing well and healing through their trauma counseling.
Congratulations to Joyce Jones, Staff Associate at Georgia CASA, who reached 20 years of service on March 1st! Joyce has been Georgia CASA’s official greeter and first point of contact for nearly every office visitor and caller over the last 20 years. As the friendly voice, compassionate
co-worker, and keeper of records, Joyce helps to build strong connections with the CASA network from board members to supporters. Through her gift of story-telling, she helps to pass on Georgia CASA traditions and the legacies of the amazing people who have been a part of the CASA network. With her South Georgia roots, she combines Georgia history with her personal experiences that relate to our statewide travels and work. Joyce coordinates the distribution of hundreds of CASA volunteer background checks, payments, and volunteer training manuals each year. She disseminates information ranging from initial volunteer contacts, board meeting materials, donor mailings, and so much more.

We celebrate her two decades of service and thank Joyce for her dedication to Georgia CASA and her impact on the entire state CASA network!

Pictured above: Joyce Jones (with commemorative vase) stands with other members of the Georgia CASA team
Congratulations to Elizabeth (Liz) Ruf, winner of the 2020 CASA Board Member Leadership Award!

She will officially be awarded at the Georgia CASA Conference on August 8th.
We also send congratulations to the following nominees:

Jacqueline McLear (CASA of Houston County)
Jared Ross (Coastal Plain CASA)
Joe Vogt (Piedmont CASA)
Joel Williams (Hall/Dawson CASA)

The CASA Board Member Leadership Award was established in 2015 by the Georgia CASA Board to honor the legacy of Georgia CASA Board members Marcia Hammons and Quintus Sibley for their long-term board service, leadership roles, and personal commitment to CASA. The annual award is given to one affiliate CASA board or advisory board member, nominated by his/her affiliate, who exhibits excellence in board leadership, demonstrates a strong commitment to the CASA mission, and whose actions positively impact the advancement of the affiliate and/or the CASA network.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth are currently more isolated due to the need for social distancing. Child abuse reports in Georgia have significantly dropped because children have limited outside contact and normally have school, community, and other social contacts that help provide a safe haven and safeguards, as well as report suspected abuse or neglect. Parental stress, economic and housing instabilities, isolation, and social distancing may increase the risk of child abuse and neglect. Suspected child abuse or neglect in Georgia can be reported to 1.855.GACHILD.

All of us need to keep our eyes on children and work together as a community to ensure their safety, while supporting healthy parenting.

Thank you to our donors who supported the work of Georgia CASA for winter 2020. Because of your investment, more children were provided with a CASA volunteer to amplify their voices. We truly appreciate your investment in children!

If you are not yet part of our donor group, you can give online here! Please consider becoming a Georgia CASA donor, or repeat donor, for Spring 2020 as we are currently soliciting for our Spring Annual Fund.
April 29 - May 1: Virtual Spring Council of Programs Meeting
August 8: Georgia CASA State Conference (Atlanta)
September 17: Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Symposium (Stone Mountain)

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