July 2020 | In This Issue
Making History!

This year, history was made! Louisiana has 16 Children's Advocacy Centers statewide. Our Legislators and our Governor put these services as a priority this year for the first time. An investment of $750,000 was made to better protect children in local communities being served by CACs across the state. 1st Lady, Donna Edwards, visited eight CACs over a year and played a major role in this achievement as a champion for the children of Louisiana. Locally, Child Advocacy Services has maintained four sites, serving parishes throughout Southeast Louisiana for over 20 years.

"We have been working for years to ensure that children in our community receive quality services. This unprecedented statewide investment validates the need for our services in local communities," said Joelle Henderson, CAC Program Director at Child Advocacy Services.
Since 1997, children have had a safe place to share their courageous story of child sexual abuse. Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) have been included in our law, but funding has not.

"Our partnerships with the District Attorney's Office, Law Enforcement, and The Department of Children and Family Services contributed to making this possible. It is truly the result of prioritizing children, putting their needs first, and coming together as an entire system to better serve survivors of abuse. We are beyond thrilled. We are thankful!" Rob Carlisle, CEO Child Advocacy Services.

M aking Informed Decisions of Kinship, Adoption,or Guardianship

Unexpected instability and crisis can impact parents' ability to provide adequate care for their children, and relatives or fictive kin rise to the occasion to open their homes and hearts to help their family in times of need. In the United States, the foster care system has increasingly relied on grandparents and other extended family members to care for children, which is known as kinship care. Research has shown that kinship care is generally better for children than non-relative foster care. Children in kinship foster care experience fewer placement changes, more stability, better behavioral and mental health outcomes while preserving their cultural identity and traditions.

It is crucial that professionals receive continuous training that builds understanding and empathy as they meet the evolving needs of kinship and grand-families. Professionals should educate and inform birth parents, kinship caregivers, and the children (if appropriate) of their permanency options-whether it is through adoption or guardianship.
146 CASA volunteers served 325 children in June and helped find safe, permanent homes for 22 of those children. 170 children are still waiting for someone to be their voice.

Congratulations to Mariah and Lawrence on their recent adoption! Special thanks to Judge Jasmine in St. John Parish and their CASA Volunteer, Curtrel Gilliam.

Training starts the week of August 31st.

Want to learn more about becoming a CASA Volunteer? 
Register for one of our upcoming virtual information sessions. 

Coffee with CASA Information Sessions:

August 13th at 9:00 AM

Lunch & Learn Information Sessions: 

July 30th at 11:30 AM
August 27th at 11:30 AM
September 10th at 11:30 AM
September 24th at 11:30 AM

 Recruiters' Corner 

15 Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering saves lives, both the lives of the people you help and yours. When you invest the time and energy to volunteer, you are investing in yourself just as much as in the causes you support.

"Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted, counts." - Albert Einstein

Congratulations to our newest CASA Volunteers!

Congratulations to Shantrell Byrd! Shantrell was recently sworn-in by Judge Tim Marcel in the 29th JDC.

Alyssa Gutierrez, Karen Meche, and Christie Wiltz were recently sworn-in as CASA Volunteers in the 21st JDC and are ready to serve children in our community!

Kimberly Bartley Jones
St. John Parish Volunteer Spotlight

Kimberly Bartley Jones has been a CASA volunteer in St. John Parish since October 17, 2017. She has been a powerful voice and advocate for four children thus far serving on three cases. Kimberly always makes it a priority to visit monthly with the children she is advocating for. She has committed herself to advocate throughout the duration of each case to see these children in a safe and permanent home. It is shown through Kimberly's willingness and determination that she has a passion for being a CASA volunteer. Thank you, Kimberly, for all you do. We are so grateful you are a part of our CASA team.

 Ellen Kerstens
Livingston Parish Volunteer Spotlight

This month, we recognize CASA Advocate, Ms. Ellen Kerstens, for her outstanding advocacy and commitment to a positive future for her CASA children. Ms. Ellen has been a CASA Volunteer since December of 2019 and has served five children. Ms. Ellen has continued to serve the children on her case despite the children being placed over 100 miles away. Ms. Ellen always makes it a priority to visit with her CASA children at least once per month and maintains consistent contact with the children's parents in order to encourage them and provide resources.

Ms. Ellen is a retired teacher and has spent years serving children in different ways. We are thankful for not only Ms. Ellen's CASA advocacy, but her service to our community and youth as well. Ms. Ellen has made such a difference in the lives of the children she serves. We are so grateful for Ms. Ellen and so many CASA volunteers like her who see the positive futures that children can have when hope is given. Thank you, Ms. Ellen, for your continued efforts to advocate for children.

Well-being Assessments for CASA Kids

CASA Volunteers and CASA Supervisors are charged with the duty of advocating for the well-being of the children that we serve. We have all heard this multiple times; volunteers hear this from our recruiters during the pre-screening interview, from the trainer during pre-service training, from the advocate supervisor during supervision, and from the court. Do you ever wonder what exactly "well-being" means? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines well-being as the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous (Merriam-Webster 2020). The antonym of well-being is ill-being; which is defined as a condition of being deficient in health, happiness, or prosperity. Our goal is to make sure that our CASA children have every resource needed to happy, healthy, and prosperous and not be in a state of ill-being. 

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.

To adhere to the current stay home mandate and social distancing orders, we are not currently hosting in-person trainings. 

Click here to see dates and locations for additional trainings offered through Child Advocacy Services.

Tra vis Graham
Tangipahoa Parish Multi-Disciplinary Team Spotlight

Travis Graham has been a member of our Tangipahoa Parish MDT for 3 years. He started his law enforcement journey in 2005 at the Tangipahoa Parish Jail where he worked in corrections. 
In 2006, Travis left the parish jail and began working at the Amite Police Department as a patrol officer up until 2008. 

Travis began working for the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office from 2008 until 2012. During his time at the sheriff's office, he worked as a patrol deputy, field training officer, and on the SRT (Special Response Team).

In 2012, Travis made his way back to the Amite Police Department where he worked as a patrol officer. In 2014, he was promoted to Sergeant of Patrol. Travis was transferred to criminal investigations in 2017. He was recently promoted to Lieutenant of Investigations in March of 2020.

Travis says his favorite part about being on our MDT is the behind the scenes work that takes place to ensure that families are kept out of harms way.

Travis, we greatly appreciate you going above and beyond for the children and families we serve.

Pamela Patterson
Livingston Parish Multi-Disciplinary Team Spotlight

Pamela Patterson has been an active member of our Livingston MDT team for 17 years.  Throughout her career, Pam has served families in several capacities.  She began working for the Department of Children and Family Services in 2003 as a Foster Care worker in Livingston Parish for 4 years.  She transitioned in 2007 as a Child Protection Specialist for 5 years.  In 2012, Pam moved to the DCFS state office in Baton Rouge and served as a Program Consultant in the IT Department.   

She returned to the Livingston Parish office in 2015 and continues to diligently serve as a Child Protection Specialist Supervisor.  Pam's favorite part about being on our MDT is that it gives her an opportunity to follow cases from beginning to the end and track cases with the 21st JDC  District Attorney's Office.  

Thank you, Pam, for being so dedicated in protecting the children in your community.  

In June, the Children's Advocacy Center provided advocacy and forensic interviews to 70 children. In the River Region, 26 children and families were provided 36 hours of counseling.

Prevention Patrol 

Preparing your children to return to school during COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak has caused major disruptions to daily life and children are feeling these changes deeply. While the return to school will be not only welcome but exciting for many students, others will be feeling anxious or frightened.

"My child is scared to go back to school. How can I make them feel at ease?"

Starting school or starting a new school year can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You can make him/her feel at ease by having an open conversation about what it is that's worrying him/her and letting them know that it's natural to feel anxious.

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 *
CH Specialty *
Crossroads Behavioral Health, LLC *
Judith & David Landry *
Rob & Tara Peltier *
Becky Powell *
Chris & Lauren Reynolds *
Paul & Marjie Titus *

* denotes a recurring monthly donor
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 2020.  Please remember your contribution is tax-deductible .
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