March 2020 | In This Issue
Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanence

Concurrent planning is an approach that seeks to shorten a child or youth's stay in foster care by promoting more than one permanent family solution at a time. While returning a child to his or her family of origin is the primary case plan for a child in foster care, concurrent planning involves the parallel pursuit of an alternative permanency goal (e.g., adoption) that would best serve the child in the event reunification fails. By considering all reasonable options for permanency as soon as a child enters foster care, and pursuing those that would best meet his or her needs, concurrent planning works to advance the child's best interests and achieve timely permanence.

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope
With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

At this time, information about COVID-19 is rapidly evolving as new details are confirmed and new questions emerge. In the  event of an outbreak in your community, as a parent/caregiver, your first concern is about how to protect and take care of  your children and family. Knowing important information about the outbreak and learning how to be prepared can reduce your  stress and help calm likely anxieties. This resource will help you think about how an infectious disease outbreak might affect  your family-both physically and emotionally-and what you can do to help your family cope.

Angelette Update


We are excited to share the progress and even more thrilled to share this site for service well into the future. What a great legacy! Thank you!


158 CASA volunteers served 332 children in February and helped find safe, permanent homes for 23 of those children. 177 children are still waiting for someone to be their voice.

Keaton and Keston were adopted into their forever home! Thank you to Judge Tess Stromberg in Ascension Parish for officiating their adoption and a very special thanks to their CASA Volunteer, Melinda Robert. 

Upcoming Training Dates:

Livingston - March 26th
Tangipahoa - March 26th
St. Charles and St. John - May 5th
Ascension, Assumption, and St. James - July 28th
 Recruiters' Corner 

Did you know?
The many ways volunteering is good for your heart

"There's a growing body of research showing that volunteering is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes," says Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. A  study  he co-authored, published in  Social Science and Medicine  earlier this year, found that volunteers were more likely to use preventive health care services. For instance, people who volunteered were 47% more likely to get cholesterol checks and 30% more likely to get flu shots than those who didn't volunteer. (An annual flu shot appears to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by about one-third over the following year.)

Rick Wilkinson was recently sworn in as a new CASA Volunteer in the 21st JDC! Thank you, Rick, for committing to serving children in our community!

Congratulations to Michael Doucet! Michael completed his CASA Pre-Service Training and was recently sworn in as a CASA! He is ready to change a child's story!

Liz Durham
Tangipahoa Parish

Liz was sworn in as an advocate on August 14, 2012 and immediately took her first case; a three sibling group that was successfully reunited with their parents. Liz accepted two more cases in early 2013 as soon as her first case closed. Those cases consisted of a two child sibling group and a four child sibling group. The case involving two children closed after Liz advocated for their grandmother to have guardianship. The four sibling group opened in May of 2013; two of the four siblings were adopted in 2015. Adoptive homes have not been found for the other two children but Liz continues to advocate for them. She drives to Houma to see one of the children and to New Orleans to see the other; she makes sure that their medical, emotional, and educational needs are met as well as making sure that the state does not give up on finding homes for the children. In addition to those cases, Liz has been the advocate to thirteen more children. The outcomes for the cases have been different; some were safely returned to their parents, some are in the permanent homes of relatives, and some have been adopted. Liz has been a key player in all of these outcomes. She is currently advocating for the two children that she has been a consistent voice for since 2013 and is in the process of selecting another case.
Liz has gone above and beyond in traveling to see her children; she has gone as far as Shreveport and makes regular trips to Houma. She is at every court hearing, IEP, and parent visits. Liz thinks outside of the box and advocates for things that seem so simple, such as DCFS paying for tutoring, summer camps, etc.---things that most foster children don't get to do.
Liz and her husband, Rick, reside in Tangipahoa Parish. They have four children, two sons-in-law, and recently became grandparents. In addition to her work for CASA, Liz is on the board of Crossroads NOLA. She and Rick are active members of Church of the King and serve in various ministry positions. Liz's volunteer efforts extend into the community; she and Rick are very active in meeting the needs of families through their service at Our Daily Bread.

Louise Mitchell

Louise Mitchell has been a CASA volunteer for a year and a half. She has been a stable person for one
child in foster care thus far. Louise remains engaged with her CASA child and the child's parents because she knows the parents are important to the child she serves. She has observed countless visits between her CASA child and the parents and has worked to obtain the most objective information possible so the Court can make informed decision in the best interest of the child. Due to fears exhibited by her CASA child because of situations he was in with his family, Louise advocated for consistent counseling that has helped the child overcome his fear of fire.
Louise is always proud to tell her friends and family about her role as a CASA. She has even shared the importance of being a CASA with her church congregation in the hopes of recruiting more advocates for children in foster care. Louise does a great job of remaining committed to her CASA child, though there have been times when personal demands have become greater. It is obvious she truly loves being able to provide voice to the needy and we are so grateful to have Louise as a part of our CASA team.

New Optima Information

There are seasoned Advocates who are good at entering logs into Optima, but we do we have some Volunteer Activity Types that were not on the list when most of you went through Optima training. As always, your narrative is one of the most important parts of the Optima tasks but choosing the right type for the activity sets the tone for the entire log. Below are the current Volunteer Activity Types with a brief description of when to use them:

  • Attempted Contact: Please utilize this type when you call, text, attempt to visit, or email DCFS, foster parents, biological parents, the child, or any other party and do not receive a response. This tab is important but often overlooked. Documenting our attempts to reach a parent to no avail is important information as it relates to court reports.
  • Attended a Meeting - NOT IEP or FTM: Please utilize this type when you have a meeting with school officials, DCFS, or any other party if the meeting is not a formal IEP or Family Team Meeting.

Remember to keep your CASA Volunteer file up-to-date with your current
auto insurance card, driver's license, and contact information
And remember to visit your CASA child face-to-face at least   once a month.

Stewards of Children is a revolutionary sexual abuse prevention training program that educates adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The program believes and teaches that child safety is an adult's job. Stewards of Children is designed for organizations that serve children and youth. Child Advocacy Services has trained facilitators that can offer this course to your organization for only $10.00 per individual. This fee includes your materials, certificate for 2 hours of continuing education, and assists CAS in continuing our services for children through our CASA and CAC Programs.

Contact us at 800-798-1575 for information on scheduling a training or click on the link below to register for an upcoming training. Each of the trainings below will be held at the
 Charles E. Cate Teacher Education Center 
1300 N General Pershing St.,  Room 1022
Hammond, LA 70401
Friday, March 20, 2020 - 9:00 AM
Thursday, April 16, 2020 - 4:30 PM

Note to our CASA Volunteers: This training is offered to all CASAs free of charge. When registering online, please select "pay at door." You will receive your materials at the door.


Not a #Number is an interactive, five-module prevention curriculum designed to teach youth how to protect themselves from human trafficking and exploitation through information, critical thinking, and skill development. Not a #Number uses a holistic approach focusing on respect, empathy, individual strengths, and the relationship between personal and societal pressures that create or increase vulnerabilities. Appropriate for ages 12-18.
Not a #Number Caregiver's Guide: This resource guide includes information to help you understand the reality of human trafficking, and most importantly, what you can do to safeguard your youth and others in your community. This resource guide can be given to caregivers or can be presented in a one hour presentation.

For more information on Not a #Number, contact Jordyn G'sell, Prevention Services Coordinator, at  (985) 785-5226 or

Multi-Disciplinary Team Spotlight

Beth Russell has an extensive background in law enforcement. She spent nearly 3 years at the Amite Police Department and the St. Helena's Sheriff's Office working as a dispatcher. 

In 2004, Beth began her journey at the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office where she started as a dispatcher, moved to patrol, and then the narcotics division. In 2007, Beth transferred to the juvenile division.  
Overall, she has roughly 18 years total at the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office. 
Beth's most enjoyable part about being a member of MDT is the team collaboration and putting the pieces of the puzzle together to get the best outcome possible for a child.  

In February, the Children's Advocacy Center provided advocacy and forensic interviews to 58 children. In the River Region, 31 children and families were provided 64 hours of counseling.

Prevention Patrol 
Teen Triple P: The Power of Positive Parenting
Child Advocacy Services is now offering Teen Triple P - Positive Parenting Program Selected Seminar Series in St. Charles, St. John and St. James Parish.

"The Triple P - Positive Parenting ProgramĀ® is one of the world's most effective parenting programs. It is one of the few based on evidence from ongoing scientific research. Triple P works by giving parents the skills to raise confident, healthy children and teenagers, and to build stronger family relationships. It also helps parents manage misbehavior and prevent problems occurring in the first place."

Teen Triple P Seminars are "light touch" parenting information presentations for large groups of parents who are generally coping well but have one or two concerns. There are three seminars in the Teen Triple P Seminar series. You can choose to do one, two or all three of them. They deal with the most common parenting issues we all face, such as how to encourage responsible behavior, improve family relationships, deal with independence or manage problems at school or with friends. Each seminar lasts 90 minutes. 

Interested in a prevention training? Contact Jordyn G'sell at for requests and scheduling!

Earlier this month, we visited DC Reeves Elementary to present the winning students, faculty, staff, and parents with copies of the calendar for which they created artwork. We enjoyed working with DC Reeves and were proud to share the product of their hard work with them! Contact Lauren at 985-902-9583 if you would like a calendar.

Child Advocacy Services recently hosted an open house at our Gonzales Regional Office. We are so happy we had the opportunity to share information about how CAS provides Voice, Healing, and Security to all children and families in Ascension Parish. Thank you to our local legislative dignitaries for spending their time with us and putting the children of their communities first.

Brave children tell their stories. Courageous adults help these children through their trauma and assist them in finding a safe future.  Buttons of Bravery represent the journey of one child for a year under the care of  Child Advocacy Services. 

Help hold them together through their experience by participating in the 
Buttons of Bravery Child Sponsorship Program. 

Thank you to our new and/or continuing Buttons of Bravery Child Sponsors. 

Rob & Sally Carlisle *
Cate Street Seafood Market, LLC
Crossroads Behavioral Health, LLC
Celeste Layrisson
Rob & Tara Peltier
Chris & Lauren Reynolds

* denotes a recurring monthly donor
Threading Hope

When a child visits Child Advocacy Services, they select a button from a jar. This is a very personal selection because this button represents them. It tells their story. These stories are raw, emotional, and heart wrenching. The button selection may take a long time. They are asked to leave a button to help other children see they are not alone.

The buttons in the jars pictured above represent 4,785 children served by the Children's Advocacy Center since 2012. Like buttons, children come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. And they all need a secure thread to hold them tightly and let them know there is hope.

Child Advocacy Services is working on an exciting project, Threading Hope, which will invite everyone to join CAS in giving children a voice, a sense of security, and help with healing. You can be the thread of hope. We can't wait to share more! Stay tuned!

Dear Community Supporter,

CAS served 557 children with 212 volunteers through our CASA program in 2019. Of those children, 205 were placed in safe and permanent homes. Additionally, we performed 662 forensic interviews and provided 663 hours of counseling to 116 children and families through our CAC program. 

Child Advocacy Services, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. We appreciate your consideration to start or renew your child sponsorship for 2019.  Please remember your contribution is tax-deductible .
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