In-Service Credit Opportunities

Each CASA volunteer is required to log at least 12 hours of in-service credit each year. Credits can be earned by reading, watching or listening to any material that is relevant to child advocacy and/or the foster care system. Below are some easy opportunities to earn in-service credit.

Podcasts  

You can get in-service credit by listening to informative podcasts. Our local CASA of NELA podcast features interviews with volunteers and local experts, offering valuable information about child advocacy. You can listen to all the episodes below.

 

You can also listen to podcasts from the National CASA Association here.

Newsletters

You can catch up on previous editions of the CASA Connector by clicking here.

ReMoved Short Film

ReMoved is a fantastic short film depicting the plight of children in foster care. Told from the perspective of a young girl, it is an unflinching look into struggles that foster children face each day.

You can also check out an interview with the creator of the film here.

We’ve also compiled a list of other movies and books here.

In addition to all these, we have a small selection of books available for loan at our office. Come by and check out the selection!

Local Volunteer’s Testimony Makes a Difference

A CASA is a child’s voice in court. Most of the time this is in the form of a written court report submitted to the judge prior to a hearing. In some cases however, a CASA volunteer can be called to testify on a case. This can potentially be an intimidating and frightening experience for someone with no background in the court system, but it can also be necessary in order to ensure that the best of interest of the child is kept in the foreground of the case.  CASA of NELA volunteer Teresa Sheppard was recently called to the stand and her testimony helped move the children in her case one step closer to a safe, permanent home.

Sheppard has been a CASA volunteer since September 2011 and has been working the same case since she was sworn in. The details of her case are an example of the all too common reality that many children in foster care are facing. Sheppard advocates for 9 year old twins, a boy and a girl, who have been in their second stint in foster care since July 2011. In their short lives, they have spent five years in foster care, been in seven different schools, five foster homes and have had three different case workers.   As an advocate, Sheppard has been one of the most consistent adults in the children’s lives. After all the turmoil of the last few years, there was now a dim light at the end of the tunnel for these children. A hearing was scheduled to terminate their mother’s parental rights.

As the court date approached, Sheppard’s CASA supervisor Robyn McCarty told her that she might be called to testify. Sheppard says she wasn’t nervous however, adding “by the time you’ve written five court reports, you know the details.”

After a five hour wait in the courtroom, her case was finally called. Sheppard had been working with the children for longer than anyone else involved in the case, so her insight was viewed as valuable and she was called to the stand. She says that preparation was key to her testimony.  “I felt like I was really prepared because a couple weeks prior to the court date, I met with my advocate supervisor and we reviewed all the documents and court reports from the case,” she said. Throughout the line of questioning, Teresa was able to provide solid truths about what would be best for the children in the case. The mother of the children had refused to work her case plan after the judge had given her ample time. The hearing ended with the mother’s parental rights being terminated. “The nerves came when it was over. I wasn’t scared when I was testifying because I knew my case,”  Sheppard said.

The twins are now in a potential adoptive placement and Teresa will remain their CASA until the adoption is final. Sheppard’s work is a great example of the difference one person can make in helping children find safe, permanent homes. She sums it up by saying, “You just don’t realize how valuable a tool CASA is to the judge, the attorneys and the social workers. They have to use you, but if they do, you can be invaluable.”

 

“Stand Up For An Abused Child” Event This Thursday, October 10th

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CASA of Northeast Louisiana is inviting the region to stand up for abused and neglected children. “Stand Up For an Abused Child” will be held Thursday, October 10th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Forsythe Park in Monroe. CASA staff and volunteers from the community will stand to bring awareness to the issue of abuse and neglect faced by an average of 1,000 children a year in Northeast Louisiana.

 CASA is inviting individuals and groups to come stand up for abused children so they can stand a chance. At the event, community members can also learn more about how they can get involved and be the voice of abused and neglected children. If you are interested in standing for any length of time and showing support for abused and neglected children, please contact Adam McDonald at 398-0945 or amcdonald@cfcfnela.org.

 As part of the event, Monroe City Court Judge Jeff Joyce will be on hand to swear in a new group of CASA volunteers at noon. These new volunteers will take the CASA oath and officially become officers of the court. Also during the event, standers will have the opportunity to participate in an art project to commemorate the event.

 

Our September Podcast Is Here!

Check out the latest edition of the CASA of NELA podcast! This month, we spoke with local advocate Sylvia Kelly who recently closed a case with four children. We also speak with advocate Martha Simons, who also has over 35 years of experience in the field of education. She shares some tips for CASAs working with the school system and talks about the importance of educational advocacy. You can also find previous editions of our podcast by clicking on the “News & Updates” tab at the top of the screen. Thanks for listening!

Advocate Resource: Child Services List

Northeast Louisiana Child Services

Download our quick reference list of services available to children in our region! The list includes phone and web information for a variety of services for children ranging from educational to medical and mental health. This is a great resource for advocates who have a child with a specific need. It can also be found in the “Current Advocates” section at the top of the page.

Download (right click, save as): Northeast Louisiana Child Services List

LA CASA Live Webcast: “Poverty and Child Maltreatment” Sept. 4th at 2pm

Louisiana CASA will be hosting a live webcast tomorrow from 2pm – 3:30pm on the topic of Poverty and Child Maltreatment.” The webcast is free and can be viewed from any computer with an internet connection. From the Louisiana CASA website:

“As science embraces changes in knowledge and focus about child maltreatment, the opportunity arises for those in the child welfare community to follow and institute changes to positively affect the lives of the maltreated. LACASA intends to embrace that opportunity through Louisiana’s first Child Well-Being Summit, which will be held April 16-17, 2014 in Baton Rouge.  Recent and emerging research on child maltreatment effects, treatment and prevention has revealed much about the long-term impact of maltreatment on well-being and the resultant societal impact.  One of the areas that LACASA is particularly concerned with is the high poverty rate among victims of abuse and neglect, both as children and as adult survivors of maltreatment.”

If you wish to participate in the webcast, you can sign up for free here: http://bit.ly/15USw51

Once you are registered, go here at 2pm on Sept. 4th: http://bit.ly/14biHAL

This is an excellent opportunity to gain more knowledge about issues affecting the children our program serves as well as gain in-service credit.

2nd Annual CASA School Supply Drive Is Going On Now

CASA of Northeast Louisiana is now accepting donations of school supplies for local children in foster care. CASA’s 2013 School Supply Drive is hoping to provide backpacks filled with school supplies for over 160 local children who are served by CASA.  Items needed include notebooks, pencils, pens, scissors, glue, construction paper, backpacks, Kleenex and other items. Those wishing to make donations are asked to bring supplies to CASA’s office at 622 Riverside Dr. in Monroe between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. CASA is hoping to collect all the backpacks filled with supplies by Friday, August 9.

Local CASA volunteer Danyelle DeCorte is leading the drive. “Often times, foster parents or relative placements have trouble getting funds for basic school supply needs,” said DeCorte. “We want to collect as many backpacks full of school supplies as possible and provide them to the kids. CASA volunteers will deliver the backpacks with supplies before school starts during their monthly visit with the kids.

Below is a list of supplies that are needed:

2013 CASA of NELA School Supply Drive

Do I have enough time to advocate for children?

One of the biggest questions that we recieve from potential advocates is “How much time does it take?”  We know life is busy.  Work, family, friends, church, and other things keep us running, but don’t think because you have a full-time job, have little ones, or volunteer elsewhere that you don’t have enough time to speak up for abused or neglected children.

We have advocates from all walks of life.  Some are teachers, doctors, students, retirees, stay-at-home moms.  If you have a heart for children, then we have a place for you to make a difference.

Here are some numbers to think about.

monthly timeCan you make the time 5 hours a month to speak up for a child in need?  A child who needs a voice? Visit our Volunteering with CASA page to find out more.

National CASA – “Linda Wright: Bringing Arianna Home”

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CASA volunteer Linda Wright could see that young Arianna’s mother was doing all the right things to get her daughter back.

Program: CASA of Atlantic and Cape May Counties
Location: Somers Point, NJ

Helen Horant’s toughest times during rehab had less to do with kicking her cocaine habit than proving she was fit to win her daughter back. Thanks to her own determination – and CASA volunteer Linda Wright’s stalwart advocacy for Helen’s daughter, Arianna – mother and daughter were reunited.

When Helen got into a residential “Mommy and Me” program, where children can live with their moms during their recovery, authorities wouldn’t let little Arianna stay with her at first. They needed to make sure Helen’s erratic behavior was drug-induced, not due to mental illness.

For five long months, she only got to see her baby girl every couple weeks. So she saved up her brightest smiles, her warmest hugs and kisses, and made the most out of each visit.

Linda was impressed the first time she saw Helen in mama mode. Sitting on the floor and playing with her daughter, Helen oozed joy and affection. Her giggly girl would run down the hallway and back into her mommy’s arms, squealing with glee – again and again. Linda describes Helen as “a natural-born mother, extremely open-armed and loving.”

The first time Helen heard her daughter had a court-appointed advocate, she was skeptical.

“I was pretty much like, ‘Great, one more person to tell me what I was doing wrong,’” Helen says. “She ended up being the most positive person I ever met.”

The long wait to get Arianna back was agonizing. Linda could see that Helen was doing all the right things. She kept jealousy and resentment at bay by focusing on staying clean, lending a hand to the other moms and kids at Sunrise House, and proving was more than just “fit” to be mom — that she would be the best mom Arianna could ever dream to have.

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When Helen received a parental reunification award, CASA volunteer Linda was there cheering her on.

“That drive within her was so great, and her love for Arianna was so great, that she just wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that,” says Linda, a retired school teacher and mom who adopted her daughter out of foster care.

Helen has been clean and sober for three years now. She and Arianna live at an oceanfront motel south of Atlantic City that Helen manages. In 2011, Legal Services of New Jersey honored Helen with a parent reunification award, and Linda was there cheering her on. It was a proud moment for both women.

Helen’s now a PTA mom who shuttles her daughter to cheerleading practice. She’s hosting a Mother’s Day tea at Arianna’s preschool. If it hadn’t been for Linda’s steady, reassuring presence, she’s not sure she would’ve made it. “I was just a number in the system without my CASA volunteer.”

Read more stories from CASA volunteers across the nation by visiting the National CASA website at www.casaforchildren.org

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