The latest news and information from Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Fresno and Madera Counties. 

Message from the Executive Director. 

Dear Friends,
I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the Board of Directors for their role in providing leadership to CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties. The Board is made up of seventeen members that meet quarterly to receive progress reports, set policy and plan for the future. I would like to congratulate the newly elected officers whose terms of service began on January 1st. 
Maureen Lewis, President
Chief Financial Officer, Manco Abbott
Ben Torchia, Vice President; Chairperson-Community Resource Development Committee
Senior Vice President - Relationship Manager, Citi Commercial & Agricultural Bank
Jeff Dal Cerro, Secretary
Robert Shaffer; Treasurer, Chairperson-Operations Committee
Senior Vice President, South Region Manager, Bank of the West
Wilma Hashimoto, Chairperson-Program Committee
Research Associate, AIMS Center for Math and Science Education
A complete list of our Board Membership can be found here. 
Nathan Lee, Executive Director
7th Annual Continuing Education Kickoff Event! 

On Thursday, January 28th CASA of Fresno & Madera Counties hosted our 7th Annual Continuing Education Kick-off event. This annual event starts off the year by informing our advocates of the Continuing Education topics that will be presented throughout the year and provides them with the opportunity for small group sharing.
A main part of our mission is to continually train and support all advocates volunteering through CASA of Fresno and Madera. Part of our volunteer requirements includes a minimum of 12 hours of Continuing Education in order for our advocates to gain knowledge on many of the issues they will encounter while working on cases with CASA. Each month focuses on a specific topic such as children's mental health & trauma, former foster youth and AB12 youth perspectives, and a Q&A with Dependency Court Judges.
During our kick-off event we had the privilege of listening to Brian Radtke, Principal of Phoenix Secondary in the Fresno Unified School District, present our advocates with powerful tips on how to advocate for children. Attendees also heard advocate Ceclia Funk present on her current case and advocacy. We are looking forward to the discussions and lessons our advocates will have during each Continuing Education Class this year!
Continuing Education Classes are held on the third Thursday of every month from 6:15-8:15 p.m. in the CASA office unless otherwise noted. We encourage all of our advocates and board members to attend these valuable courses throughout the year.
Mission Moment 

Cindy Jenkins has been an advocate in Madera County since 2014 and has worked the same case over the past two years. In her case she is assigned to a group of siblings where the older sibling has ran away from her placements. Cindy could tell from early on in the case that this girl was having a difficult time. "I could see that she was very unsettled" Cindy says. "Foster care is difficult for all children, but she was really struggling."
Over the past two years she has gone through three periods of being absent from care. During each instance of being gone she has always reached out to her advocate, Cindy, when she was ready to come back. Cindy would hear from her periodically, through emails or phone calls from blocked numbers, but that didn't stop the worry. Cindy knew that even though foster care was difficult for her it was still the best place for her to be, especially for the mental well being of her younger siblings. It is clear that the younger siblings look up to their older sister. She's always been there for them and it hurts them when she's gone.
During the most recent absence from care Cindy began communication with the girl in early December and started the process of encouraging her to come back. Cindy listened to all of her concerns and knew the situations she encountered during her time of absence from the foster care system. "I've never given up on her and she knows that. She knows that no matter what happens and what choices she makes that I'm here for her." When the young girl was pulled over by a CHP officer in late December it was Cindy she put the officer in touch with. As an advocate, Cindy was able to give the officer specific details and history of her case and situation. She knew her history, the steps to take and what specific information she needed to give the officer to get this young girl back in the right place. 

Since the girl has returned to foster care Cindy is busy working with the Department of Social Services to keep her secure so she doesn't feel the need to run away again. Cindy understands the large case loads of social workers and is glad she can help by spending time with the girl and giving insights that may otherwise go unnoticed. She's encouraging the girl to complete her schooling, letting her know that having an education is the building block for a bright future. She's also helping to prepare her for adulthood and teaching her how to pay bills, be organized and be on time for things. Cindy can see the difference she is making and has concern for the foster youth without an advocate. Kids know that advocates aren't paid, that they are there because they want to be, and that makes a difference. "There is such a need for CASA. All of these kids need someone sticking up for them."

Learn How to Become An Advocate
Save the Date for the 18th Annual CASA Crab Feed!
Friday, September 16, 2016. 
Upcoming Events

Here's what's happening at CASA in February. 

Information Session:  Saturday, February 6, 9:00-10:00 a.m. CASA Office.
Board of Directors Meeting:   Monday, February 8, 5:30-7:00 p.m. Dowling Aaron, Inc.
Information Session:  Wednesday, February 10, 6:15-7:15 p.m. CASA Office.
Madera Small Group Meeting:  Wednesday, February 10, 6:15-8:15 p.m. Madera DSS Admin. Office.
Journey of Hope 13-18 Small Group Meeting:  Thursday, February 11, 6:15-8:15 p.m. CASA Office. 
Office Closed in Observation of President's Day:  Monday, February 15.  
Executive Committee Meeting:  Thursday, February 18, 11:00 a.m-12:00 pm. Phone Conference. 
Continuing Education Class: Thursday, February 18, 6:15-8:15 p.m. CASA Office.
Journey of Hope 0-5 Small Group Meeting:  Wednesday, February 24, 5:15-8:15 p.m. CASA office. 

CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties | 559.244.6485 ||
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