January 2020 | In This Issue
Court Hearings for Permanent Placement of Children

Court hearings are used to review the status and determine the permanent placement of children who have been placed in out-of-home care, including foster care. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) amended title IV-E of the Social Security Act in an effort to provide added safety and permanency for children in out-of-home care. ASFA placed an emphasis on improving planning and expediting decision-making for the permanent placement of children in the child welfare system. 

Click here to read more.

160 CASA volunteers served 341 children in December and helped find safe, permanent homes for 16 of those children. 144 children are still waiting for someone to be their voice.

William has his forever home! On December 18, 2019 parents Tara and Ike (Tara is holding William), who can finally call William theirs, celebrated this special occasion along with family and friends. Thank you to William's CASA, Melissa Weimer, and Judge Tess Stromberg for making this a very special day for everyone.

Congratulations to Alexia! Alexia was recently adopted into her forever home! Thank you to Jodi Luna, Alexia's CASA, for being a powerful voice for Alexia!

Upcoming Training Dates:

St. Charles and St. John - January 27th
Livingston - January 28th
Tangipahoa - March 10th
Ascension, Assumption, and St. James - March 9th
 Recruiters' Corner 

   The end of the year signals a time for reflection, appreciation, and celebration. A time to relax, and make merriment with family and friends. During this time our hearts are open wide creating a desire to give. The end of year appeals compel us to attend to the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Child Advocacy Services Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer program trains everyday community members to advocate for a child in Foster Care. If you have been thinking about how you can make a difference in a child's life, click here  to contact a recruiter. By becoming a CASA, you can change a child's story and improve the community by helping those in need. 

Volunteering and its 
Surprising  Benefits

Volunteering can help you make friends, learn new skills, advance your career, and even feel happier and healthier. 

Congratulations to our newest CASA Volunteer!
 Con gratulations  to the newest 23rd  JDC volunteer, Megan Benoit, who was sworn in by Judge Alvin Turner, Jr. on December 18, 2019.

As we enter the new year, we want to again share our sincere thanks and appreciation for our dedicated and compassionate CASA Volunteers! We enjoyed spending time with our CASAs at Christmas socials in December. 

Evaluating Permanency Goals 
One of the most important roles of a CASA Volunteer is advocating for the children they are assigned to in court. The judges count on volunteers to provide them with information on what is in a child's best interest. Our children have attorneys that are bound to advocate for the child's wishes; and quite often those wishes are not always the same as best interest.

National CASA Standards define the "Best Interest" Principle as:

- A safe home 

- A permanent home 

  - As quickly as possible

As advocates, all three of these categories should be evaluated each visit and addressed in every court report. All of us assess the child's placement at every visit and are quick to speak up for the child if there is a safety concern. It's easy to get caught up in that first component and not focus as much on the children having a permanent home in a timely manner. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) dictates that permanency planning should begin as soon as the child enters foster care and that permanency for the child should be complete within 12 months of the child entering care unless there are compelling reasons to extend that timeframe. 

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 4:30 PM
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 jgsell@childadv.net.

In December, the Children's Advocacy Center provided advocacy and forensic interviews to 55 children. In the River Region, 22 children and families were provided 52 hours of counseling.

Happy 10th Birthday Hayward!

O ur Facility Dog, Hayward, celebrated his 10th birthday on January 22nd! 

Click here  to read about how Hayward helps children in our Hammond office through Powerful Paws for Children.
Prevention Patrol 
Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This month, we'll be bringing you some basic facts and stats about human trafficking - because the more you know, the better equipped you'll be to make your community a safer place for children.
Human trafficking is defined as any situation of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power. In the case of child sex trafficking, force, fraud, or coercion do not need to be present - the crime is simply the exchange of any sex act with a child for anything of value. For vulnerable children, these "things" can include a place to sleep, or a hot meal, drugs, a ride, etc.

                                                  Click here to continue reading.

Interested in a prevention training? Contact Jordyn G'sell at jgsell@childadv.net for requests and scheduling!
Child Advocacy Services hosts Northshore Child & Youth Trafficking Coordinator

CAS Children's Advocacy Center Program is proud to introduce 
Kathy  Cusimano as one of nine statewide coordinators to better understand and respond to the growing need for services to survivors of child and youth trafficking. This grant and three year project is in partnership with the Louisiana Alliance of Children's Advocacy Centers and the Louisiana Governor's Office. Two years ago, Amber Alert hosted regional summits across Louisiana that produced the overwhelming need to further develop practices for responding and reaching out with services to those survivors from these incidents. Most often, people believe these incidents are similar to those scenes from movies when more of these incidents occur within a familial environment. Our goal is to bring about more prevention, better education, and a reactive response to these tragic experiences encountered by children. 

We want to share our thanks to  Oak Point Fresh Market ! Oak Point partnered with CAS for the month of December to help raise awareness and funds to support services for children in our community! Oak Point generously matched $3,000 donated by their customers to make an impact on the lives of children served by CAS! We are truly grateful for the Oak Point team, their customers, and our entire community for helping us live out our mission to give Voice, Healing, and Security to children!

Live Oak Methodist Church Hosts Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children Training

Over 50 parents, professionals, and proud partners came together in Livingston Parish to keep children safer by becoming Stewards of Children. Thank you, Live Oak United Methodist Church, for hosting this important training!

Contact us at 985-902-9583 to schedule a training for your group or click here to learn more.

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. 

Patricia Golembiewski
Bracy's Nursery
Joseph & Sylvia Bush
Rob and Sally Carlisle*
Cashe Coudrain & Bass, LLP
Catholic Daughters of America
CH Specialty*
Crossroads Behavioral Health, LLC*
Melissa Laird
Oak Point Fresh Market
Ochsner Clinic Foundation
Celeste Layrisson*
Rob & Tara Peltier*
Becky Powell*
NOVA Chemicals

* denotes a recurring monthly donor

Dear Community Supporter,

CAS served 550 children with 226 volunteers through our CASA program in 2018. Of those children, 188 were placed in safe and permanent homes. Additionally, we performed 738 forensic interviews and provided 490 hours of counseling to over 125 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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