Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas of Warmth, Love

The CASA Kids Christmas Store will be open Dec. 17 for foster parents to give kids a good Christmas

Erin Green
Record Vistas Editor

Imagine a 5-year-old boy going hungry because his mom’s buying drugs to feed her habit rather than food to feed her son.

Imagine a 10-year-old girl whose dad beats her up for the slightest reason — or, for no reason at all.

Imagine a 12-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother who can’t wear short sleeves because the bruises will show where their mother’s boyfriend beat them.

Imagine a 7-year-old who is molested regularly by a family member.

Imagine being a child in any of these situations.

Imagine being the child who doesn’t want to leave school at the end of every school day — the child who hates the weekends because of the horrible things that go on at home, the child who goes hungry becasue of a parents’ drug habit or the child who doesn’t know where his parents are or when he might eat next.

Imagine being the child whose teacher, neighbor or guardian steps in to help.

Imagine going to a foster home filled with things you may have never had, filled with food and warmth and love.

Imagine being such a child.

The need is incredible, said Carrie-Leigh Cloutier, executive director of Chaves County CASA. The recession is one reason, but the holiday season is also a major factor — child abuse rises during the holiday season, she said. And, unfortunately, because of the state budget deficit and budget cuts coming from Santa Fe, “there is no money or resources to help abused kids this year,” Cloutier said. While no programs have yet been cut locally, Cloutier called the cuts “enormous,” adding since the recession began, CASA’s seen more than $200,000 in contracts cut. But the cuts don’t stop abuse and neglect, she said. In fact, at times such as these, they often see situations worsen. “Everything compounds during the holidays,” Cloutier said. “We see the stress start after Halloween. After Thanksgiving, it explodes. ... The pressure on families becomes worse. The tensions in the families becomes worse. Custody battles become worse. The tensions in families who can’t provide, the family that can’t buy groceries but the son wants in iPod — these donations help prevent child abuse.”

And that is why the CASA Kids Christmas Store helps make the holidays brighter for area foster kids, Cloutier said. CASA serves more than 1,000 children from birth through age 18 in Chaves County each year who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, sexually molested, at-risk or who are victims of domestic violence. Many of those children are profoundly underprivileged and have never received a gift, Cloutier said.

That’s where CASA’s Kids Christmas Store comes in. Through community donations, CASA will open its Christmas Store from 1-5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17, for parents and foster parents to come to CASA’s offices to shop for free among the toys, clothing, bicycles and other gifts available for the programs’ children and youth.

Especially needed are items for teenagers and items such as T-shirts, underwear and socks, which are distributed to youth at the Juvenile Detention Center.
“So often they’re kids who are not bad kids,” Cloutier said. “They’ve just had zero family support. Often, they’ve been abused. They just need a break.”

Donated items are due to the CASA offices, 500 N. Main St., Ste. 310, in the Bank of America building, by by 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 16.

Luckily for CASA, donations are already coming in — Cloutier received four shopping carts’ worth of toys and $270 in cash from the staff of KBIM 94.9, collected during a five-hour period in front of Walmart through its Make A Smile Happen toy collection drive. “We want to thank the outpouring of the community.” said Tom A. Ruiz of KBIM. “Without them, we couldn’t have made this happen.” Cloutier said she is always extremely grateful for the community support and by those in the community who go above and beyond to help CASA. “We’re always just mind-boggled by the generosity and by the hopes that we will be able to continue our programs,” Cloutier said, adding that the people can donate through the CASA website,

For more information about CASA, or to donate, call 625-0112, visit 500 N. Main St., Ste. 310, or log onto

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Message from Emma's Puppy Raiser

A Message from Candy Jones, Emma's Puppy Raiser at Assistance Dogs of the West in Santa Fe

Puppy Raisers

It was a cold January afternoon when I first walked up the exterior staircase en route to the offices of Assistance Dogs of the West. The cold I experienced on the uphill climb vanished once I made my way into the inner sanctum of ADW. In a row of crates containing peaceful, almost cherubic lab and golden faces, I saw quiet inquisitive beautiful dogs with tilted heads that seemed to say “Hi, who are you”?

My previous volunteer hours had been spent with Animal Rescue organizations where the first football place in the kennel area was sure fire stimulation for a cavalcade of barks, not all of which were particularly inviting. I reveled in the contrast.

At ADW, the canine welcome was warm and peaceful. My instructor Sue gathered us together in the classroom area where she disseminated a notebook and study guide, an overview of what our puppy raiser class would consist of, and an understanding of the curriculum and ultimate goal: a successful completion of the Public Access Test which would permit us each the privilege of escorting our puppies out in public.

For the next several months I spent Thursday afternoons with my classmates, Peggy, Penny and Sue soaking up the ninety some-odd cues with which ADW dogs are proficient. As a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, I struggled with dispensing with my age-old body language, which is part of what modern day dog trainers promote…body language along with verbal cues. In the world of the disabled, arms and legs and hands and their associated abilities cannot be counted on and so assistance dogs understand English so much better than the typical canine!

I started working with Emma, a delightful, petite, athletic Golden Retriever. She came to ADW a little older as a rescue dog. Emma was unapologetic in her love for fast moving birds, but her devotion to me and her patience in trying to understand my virgin assistance dog language was appreciated. By April we had earned our wings and had passed our Public Access test. Emma moved in bringing only her vest and a beautifully crafted, braided ADW leash. She developed a close relationship with my 2-1/2 year old 143 pound Great Pyrenees Gabriel and my record producer husband Larry who became so devoted to Emma she was invited into his recording studio on numerous attentions to hang out and enjoy the musical production process. Emma and I spent hours between training sessions hiking around the high dessert of NM. Off leash, Emma’s graceful lightweight frame splashed across the wildflowers on assignment toward low flying meadowlarks and desert jays. For less natural outings, we went malling, to dinner, checked out some great movies, perused the dog sections of many a bookstore, and plodded through the impressive selection of treats in dog food establishments. Beef liver came out as the overall winner.

On Thursday nights we met with other like-minded Assistance Dogs teams and promenaded around the Santa Fe Plaza in search of musical performances, improved response to cues, and companionship. At night, Emma voluntarily offered her presence down below my bed just below my left arm. She worked her way into my home, my heart, and by my side, where she perched for several months until the call came for her forever home as a Courthouse dog in Roswell, New Mexico. Emma leaves this month for points south to help traumatized children as they make their way through the courthouse process. I have already given Emma her new Roswell name: Undefined Flying Object, as I know that given the chance that she will take to the Roswell desert in moments of true freedom flying across the landscape there.

I am honored to be of assistance to ADW assistance dogs. They have made my life richer and more meaningful.

Candy Jones

Cookie Lee Jewelry Party Fundraiser for CASA

Cookie Lee Jewelry consultant Kathy Thatcher is putting on a Cookie Lee Jewelry Party with proceeds to benefit the CASA Program.

What a great way to finish your Christmas shopping and help CASA too.

Join us in the CASA Office from 11:00 to 1:00 on Thursday, December 16th for all the fun!

Find the Cookie Lee catalog here!

Children's Law Institute Registration Now Open

2011 Children's Law Institute: Children and Families Need Us Now More Than Ever...

We’re in challenging and changing times. our budgets are smaller; we’re being asked to do more with less; our caseloads are more complicated. But the truth is, children and families need us now more than ever. And now more than ever we need to come together as a community, re-invigorate ourselves, hone our skills, and find inspiration. This year, the CLI will offer 35 workshops and plenary speakers designed to refresh our thinking about core topics, inspire our days with new ideas, and hopefully leave us feeling rejuvenated–because our work is needed–now more than ever.

To that end, we’re thrilled to welcome the new Mexico Slam Poetry Team to help open the conference. Slam Poetry is a performance art that can be used to tell stories from the heart. The Slam Poetry team will honor us with a performance piece written specially for the Children’s Law Institute.

On Friday, back by popular demand, Father Greg Boyle will join us to close the conference with stories of hope, redemption and loss from his book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. As executive Director of Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Fr. Boyle is a nationally renowned speaker. His message reminds us all of the humanness of our work and teaches us to find inspiration in each day.

For more information, and to register, please go here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guerreros Bike Club Puts on Terrific Toy Run for CASA Kids

The Guerrero's Bike Club Toy Run for CASA was a huge success!

The clubs that participated were Geurrero's, Marines MC, Black Widows MC, Old Dogs, Shop Krew, Wing Riders, Vietnam Veterans, Eagle Riders, Patriot Guard, and all independent riders. Special thanks to Angie from the Mall, Roswell Ford, Andy Lucero and Famil...y (Lucero Concrete), James Haning and everybody that helped make this event possible. Check out these sweet ole' tough guys:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carrie-Leigh's Holiday Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor;

They have broken bones and burns. They have been locked into closets and abandoned on the streets. They have been raped and they think it is their fault. They are our CASA children . Hundreds of abused, neglected, sexually molested, and abandoned children are desperately in need of safe and loving homes in order to live without fear. Every day our local Department of Children, Youth, and Families receives more calls reporting child abuse.

Because the stories of these children are confidential, the citizens of Chaves County remain blissfully unaware of the horrors of child abuse that occur every day in every corner of our community. Babies are born drug addicted, children are left without food, little ones are raped and some are burned – even worse, some babies are never even held.

CASA volunteers and mentors, CYFD social workers, attorneys, and the courts are working hard to meet the needs of these children. However, the holidays are quickly approaching and it is a difficult time for the children we serve.

Please consider sponsoring a child or even a family in need this holiday season. The needs range from diapers and toys, to food, to even providing a Christmas tree to a family who dreams of Santa for the first time. We are especially aware that teenagers feel very lonely at Thanksgiving and Christmas and could use special attention.

If you are interested in helping, please call 625-0112 for more information. Or e-mail

Thank you,

Carrie-Leigh Cloutier
Executive Director

Welcome New CASA Volunteers!

This morning Judge Currier swore in our latest batch of CASA volunteers. Welcome to the CASA family!

Congratulations to Steve Cockrell, Merilyn Robertson, Steven Ornelas, Cathy Walters, Pam Coggins, Melissa Romero and Keri Pirtle!

National Network to End Domestic Violence Gives Info to Prevent High Tech Stalking

High-Tech Stalking

Stalkers are increasingly misusing a variety of telephone, surveillance, and computer technologies to harass, terrify, intimidate, coerce, and monitor former and current intimate partners. Perpetrators are also misusing technology to stalk before, during, and after perpetrating sexual violence. This one page tipsheet introduces why it's important to respond and what agencies and partnerships can do.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mike & Pam McLeod Call for CASA Support

Dear Friend,

Roswell has been our home for over 28 years. Pam and I have had the privilege to meet and work with many caring and generous people during that time. When we first became involved with the United Way campaign, we saw first hand how these special people were making a difference for those in need in Chaves County. We feel the CASA program exemplifies an organization that is truly helping the children of Chaves County who have no one to love and care for them. Their advocacy is saving children’s lives and providing them with a hope for their future.

Having taught in the Roswell Independent School District for 28 years, Pam has seen the faces of children that come from homes in crisis. These children suffer the consequences of bad choices made by their families. Each child has the potential to be a productive citizen but circumstances beyond their control prevent them from this right. It is only through intervention from organizations such as CASA they can reach their potential.

During this difficult economy CASA is facing severe budget cuts. Your donation truly is essential for the CASA Program to continue to provide meaningful and crucial services to the most helpless of victims.

Let us introduce you to CASA's newest staff member. This is Emma the CASA dog! Emma is a therapy dog that will work with our CASA kids to reduce trauma. She will even go to the courtroom with children and sit in the witness box with them as they testify against their abusers.

Donations to the Chaves County CASA Program stay locally in our community. 100% of your donation goes directly to programs. Your generosity will help CASA make a difference in many children’s lives.

For the Children,

Mike and Pam McLeod
Holiday Appeal Co-Chairs

P.S. Your donation will help hundreds of hurting children. The need is critical. Thank you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"text4baby" Health Info Resource for New Mothers

The Department of Health - Family Health Bureau has partnered with “text4baby” to promote a bilingual service that sends reliable health information by cell phone to pregnant women and new mothers.

Women can sign up by texting BABY to 511411 for the English version or BEBE for the Spanish version. The women are prompted to enter their due date or their baby’s birth date. Based on that, advertisement-free health messages arrive three times a week that are relevant to the mother’s stage of pregnancy or baby’s development during the first year.

This free service is an educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. (Note: all messages from text4baby are free! Even if moms don’t have a text messaging plan, they can get these messages for free. If they have limited texting per month, text4baby won’t take away from their total amount of messages).

You can go to for more information or contact Jaymi McKay, the Maternal Health Program Manager 505-486-8908 or Elizabeth Matthews, Family Health Bureau Medical Director at 505-476-8904.

Please encourage pregnant women and new mothers to sign up for this great service.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wings For Life Presents Workshop on Cyber Bullying

Wings for L.I.F.E.
(Life-skills Imparted to Families through Education)
“Teen Dating Violence”
What Every Teen & Parent Should Know
Presented By
Ashley Swanson, LMSW

Cyber Bullying & Sexting-
Learn How to Protect Yourself

BBQ Dinner!
Admission FREE

Roswell Boys & Girls Club
201 S. Garden
SUNDAY, November 14, 2010
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
For Questions call: Shelly @ 317-2042
Arts & Crafts for Children in a family friendly environment
(Sitter available)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks For Giving Luncheon Friday

CASA's Volunteers, donors and supporters are cordially invited to a Thanks For Giving Luncheon Friday, November 12th, 11:30 to 2:00 in the CASA Office.

CASA is grateful to our volunteers, donors, supporters, and fellow service providers for all they make possible.

During this season of thanksgiving allow us to thank you for giving to us, for helping us to save hurting children.

This is a great opportunity to meet CASA volunteers and staff and to learn more about CASA's programs.

A special thank you to Blake Meeks of Lawrence Brothers for donating the brisket! CASA staff is cooking, so you know it's going to be good.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The New Mexico CASA Network Announces its New Web Site

New Mexico CASA has a new website!

The New Mexico CASA Network (NM CASA) is a separate CASA organization that exists solely to organize the statewide network of 16CASA programs in 22 communities across New Mexico; to offer support, networking and training opportunities to those 16 local CASA programs; and to help broadcast the mission of CASA to as many people as possible. You can learn more about the other CASA programs in New Mexico and about the statewide NM CASA Network when you check out the new NM CASA website at

Ellen Genne, Program Director, says, "We invite you to visit the new New Mexico CASA Network website! We are so excited to unveil the public side of this new website and to see it begin educating people about the important advocacy work being done by our CASA programs throughout New Mexico! Visit us at!"

Nick News Foster Youth Show Available as Free Download

Featuring Santa Fe CASA Youth!

A recent edition of the cable program Nick News with Linda Ellerbee focused on foster care by looking through the eyes of several youth. Among those interviewed were Connie and Starr Barber, two youth with strong connections to the northern New Mexico CASA program, and Hon. Ernestine Gray, a juvenile court judge and National CASA board member. The show is now available as a free download through the Apple iTunes store. This makes it extremely convenient to review the program, share it with volunteers or use it for trainings. Download the program through iTunes. (Note: if you do not have the free program iTunes, you can download it from the Apple website.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winter Wonderland 2010 Preview

Come to both branches of 1st American Bank to see the wonderful Christmas decor on display for Winter Wonderland!

111 East 5th St. & 3220 N. Main St.

CASA is so grateful to 1st American Bank, Xcel Energy, and Roswell Regional Hospital for sponsoring this gala event!

The event is November 18th at 5:00 at 1st American's main branch at 111 East 5th. Entrance is free! Everyone is welcome. Food and drink will be plentiful as we auction off almost 100 items to support CASA's work. There will be a silent auction this year too!

Click on each picture below to reveal the donors and designers:

Donations of trees, decor, and silent auction items are still welcome. For more info go here or call 625-0112.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emma and Tasha in Therapy Dog Training

Natasha Sing (we call her Tasha) is in Santa Fe this week getting intensive dog handler training with Emma, our new Therapy/Courthouse Dog. She wrote and sent pictures:

Just wanted to let everyone know what Emma and I are up to. Tomorrow we have class at the mall and at Santa Fe Bar and Grill to try out our commands and behaviors in public. Emma is a great team mate and she is doing a wonderful job of training me! I cannot wait to tell you guys all about the experiences and share all the interesting and informative things I have learned about these incredible dogs that are being trained here. Our class is very small with only three other handlers and dogs. Emma has the focus of a business lady as we work together from nine in the morning till five in the afternoon. We spend our evenings resting and doing some bonding experiences so that we can pass our Assistance Dogs International test next month and make the rest of our CASA team proud!
Tasha and Emma

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

November Happenings

Save the Dates:

4th - 11:30 to 1:30 - Come and Go - Emma's Dog Shower

11th - Veteran's Day - Office Closed

12th - 11:00 to 2:00 - Thanks For Giving Luncheon

16th - noon - Brown Bag In-Service Training - Self Defense with Penny Beavers

18th - 5:00 - Winter Wonderland Auction - Chamber of Commerce After Hours Event - First American Bank

25th & 26th - Happy Thanksgiving - Office Closed

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Podcast—Advocating for Children with Developmental Delays

New Podcast from the National CASA Association

Learn from a CASA volunteer from Washington State who has both personal and professional experience dealing with families affected by developmental delays. She discusses how to advocate effectively either for children with developmental delays or for children whose parents have delays. Listen to the podcast now, or subscribe to receive the newest podcasts automatically.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Santa Fe CASA Kids To Be Featured on Nick News

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, on the Nickelodeon TV channel, will feature 8 foster youth in a story called “Foster Care: A Reality Check” this Sunday, Oct 24, at 9pm ET/PT. Two of those youth are Santa Fe's own Consuelo (Connie) and Estrellita Starr)!

Go here for more info.

It's a Dog Party!

Meet Emma, CASA's Therapy and Courthouse Dog, for a Dog Shower November 4th

Chaves County CASA is proud to announce the addition of a new staff member, Emma the CASA Dog. Emma is a Therapy/Courthouse dog that has been trained by the Assistance Dogs of the West in Santa Fe. We are excited about the numerous opportunities that Emma brings to traumatized children served by our program.

Emma has been trained to serve CASA children in two ways: as a therapy dog with CASA during visitation and as a courthouse dog helping children testify in court.

Please join us for cake on November 4th at 11:30 in the CASA office as we welcome Emma and shower her with gifts.
Emma's Wish List:
  • Dog beds for home and work
  • Collapsible dog crate
  • Recreational toys like ball and tug toys
  • Plush toys are her very favorite thing (stuffed animal toys)
  • Basket for her toys
  • Bowls and mats
  • Natural treats (no rawhide please, they contain formaldehyde)
  • Grooming mitt
  • Soft brushes for our CASA kids to use on Emma (really calms down a traumatized child)
  • Freshening spray (for in-between grooming)
  • Furminator products (ooh, that Golden Retriever hair can be something else)
  • All natural dog wipes
  • Dental chewing products
  • Doggy Doo Bags (but Emma toilets on command - very cool)
  • Retractable leash
  • Bandanas for every season
  • Freezer for the hamburger meat that has been donated
  • Preference dog food additive

Save the Date: Children's Law Institute January 12-14, 2011

The Annual Children's Law Institute will be held this year at Hotel Albuquerque.

Note the following special CASA events on Wednesday, January 12th:

- 9:00 to noon: CASA Pre-Conference Session with Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, author of Trauma Stewardship.

- Noon: CASA Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, Fransiscan Room

- 3:30 to 5:00: CASA Non-Profit Board Development Opportunity

Watch for CLI information and registration at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Upcoming Events


18th - Child Centered Meetings

26th - noon - Brown Bag In-Service Training movie: The First Years Last Forever

29th - Halloween Party for Foster Children - CYFD

29th - Winter Wonderland Set-up - First American Bank


1st - Winter Wonderland Opens - First American Bank

4th - 11:30 - CASA Dog Shower - Meet Emma, our Therapy/Courthouse Dog

12th - Thanks For Giving Luncheon

18th - 5:00 - Winter Wonderland Auction Event - First American Bank


3rd - 6:00 - CASA Kids Christmas Party - Country Club Church of Christ

17th - CASA Kids Christmas Store

ABA Practice and Policy Brief: Advocating for Very Young Children in Dependency Proceedings

The ABA's Health of Court-Involved Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers project has released a new practice and policy brief that may be of benefit to CASA/GAL volunteers. Advocating for Very Young Children in Dependency Proceedings: The Hallmarks of Effective, Ethical Representation by Candice Maze, JD, focuses on the ways that attorneys and other advocates representing very young children can profoundly influence the health, development and well-being of their clients. The brief sets out four hallmarks of advocacy to enhance effectiveness of representation and strengthen an advocate’s ability to handle ethical dilemmas. While the brief is written for attorneys, we hope the information will also be useful to CASA volunteers and staff. Find it online at the ABA website.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dr. Phil to Feature CASA on Friday's Show

No Child Forgotten - There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care right now. Many are the silent victims of abuse and neglect, spending their entire childhoods being tossed from house to house, slipping through the cracks in the foster care system. Dr. Phil gives a voice to the children who feel thrown away and unloved. Find out how you can help a child in need! And, Cindy and Mick are well-intended parents of adopted sisters, Danielle, 13, and Marie, 11. They say they struggle to parent their oldest daughter, who lies and is very angry. Dr. Phil gives a powerful demonstration of what it’s like for kids in foster care, and what they deal with even after they are placed in a permanent, loving home. Then, meet Stacy, 19, who entered foster care at 10 and endured years of horrific abuse before aging out of the system at 18. She struggles to find resources to help her in college. Dr. Phil has several amazing surprises for the teen! And, Dr. Phil and Robin are national spokespersons for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Learn how to become a CASA and help change a child’s life! For Dr. Phil's show schedule go here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Power of a CASA Volunteer in Juvenile Court

At the request of the National CASA Association, Carrie-Leigh Cloutier, Executive Director of Chaves County CASA, wrote this article about the needs of abused children in Juvenile Court.

The article is featured on National CASA's website.

CASA volunteers are valued in juvenile court just the same way they are in dependency court. The Chaves County CASA Program has been training volunteers to provide advocacy in juvenile court since 1995.


I’ll never forget the first time I met Bill. He stood six foot three inches tall, weighed 260 pounds, was pale and blond, shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit as he sat in the courtroom waiting for his hearing. The glare on his face thinly masked the fear behind his eyes. His open anger revealed even more dread. The constant tics and grunts of his Tourette syndrome grew more pronounced as every second passed. There was no doubt in my mind that this child needed CASA advocacy, so I raised my hand right there in court and CASA became part of Bill’s life.

The rest of the article can be found here.

Xcel Energy United Way Video Features Chaves County CASA

Click here to see the video. The CASA part starts at the six minute point. It's a wonderful testimony to the power of our advocates. Thanks Xcel and United Way!

Bullying Puts New Mexican Students at Risk

Bullying is One of the Main Reasons Boys Get Suspended and End Up in CASA's Alternative Education Program

(Santa Fe) – Bullying in schools decreases with each grade level as students advance through middle school and high school, according to a 2009 survey of almost 46,000 New Mexico middle and high school students. About 35 percent of 6th graders reported being bullied compared to approximately 15 percent of 12th grade students.

The New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, conducted every other year by the New Mexico Department of Health and the Public Education Department, collects data self-reported by students from most of the 89 school districts in New Mexico. The survey was completed by 22,249 high school students and 23,628 middle school students. This is the first year the survey included questions about bullying. The survey asks students about violence in school, substance use, mental health issues and other behaviors, including protective factors in their lives.

“Bullying puts young people at risk for making poor choices, so parents and school districts must work together to create safe school environments where students can thrive and not feel threatened,” said Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil, MD. “The survey results also remind us how important it is for adults to have caring relationships with adolescents.”

High school students were less likely to be bullied if they had high levels of caring and supportive relationships with a teacher, a parent or other adults at school or home. High school students who were bullied on school property were more likely than other students to attempt suicide, be in a physical fight, drink alcohol or use cocaine. Middle school students who were bullied were more likely than other students to attempt suicide and be in a physical fight.

New Mexico’s 80 school-based health centers help address violence in schools with a unique health care model that includes comprehensive physical, behavioral and preventive health services provided to adolescents in their school. All students who come to a school-based health center fill out a questionnaire about health issues and risk behaviors, including questions about school safety, bullying and teen dating violence. School-based health center staff can intervene with school personnel when the student’s safety is being compromised and work with youth who are reported to be bullies to improve his or her skills in dealing with anger and aggression.

“School-based health centers are an excellent way to create a safe environment that encourages students to walk-in and address anything that is getting in the way of learning,” said Anna Nelson, behavioral health program manager for the Department of Health’s Office of School and Adolescent Health. “School-based health centers also provide low stigma access to behavioral health services because students can drop in at any time for any reason.”

In November 2006, the Public Education Department adopted a Bullying Prevention Rule that requires all public school districts, including charter schools, to adopt and implement an anti-bullying policy.

“Safety in New Mexico’s schools is one of the most important issues facing our communities. Safety is critical for fostering an environment that is conducive to learning and growing, and for building healthier relationships,” said Education Secretary Designate Susanna Murphy, PhD. “Providing an educational environment for all students, employees, volunteers, and families, free from harassment, intimidation, or bullying supports a total learning experience that promotes personal growth, healthy interpersonal relationships, wellness, and freedom from discrimination and abuse. Therefore, harassment, intimidation or bullying are forms of dangerous and disrespectful behavior that cannot be tolerated in New Mexico’s schools.”

Other findings from the survey about violence in schools include:
• More than 7 percent of high school students skipped school because they felt unsafe either at school or on the way to or from school.
• Fifteen percent of high school students were involved in a physical fight on school property, 19 percent of boys and nearly 11 percent of girls.
• More than 8 percent of high school students carried a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or club on school property. Boys were two times more likely to carry a weapon on school property than girls (11 percent compared to 5 percent).
• Thirty-one percent of high school students had been offered, sold, or given illegal drugs on school property.
• Almost 10 percent of high school students used marijuana and 8.7 percent smoked cigarettes on school property in the past 30 days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CASA Staff Gets Mediation Training

Chaves County CASA provides mediation as one of its many services. Mediation is a powerful tool for problem solving, especially in custody cases where there are contentious issues surrounding child custody.

For more info on CASA mediation go here.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Mental Health Improving Among NM High School Students

In 2009, fewer New Mexico high school students reported being injured by attempting suicide, according to a recent survey. The survey also found that they were less likely to consider, plan, or attempt suicide. All of these measures have been on a downward trend since 2003.

The New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, conducted every other year by the New Mexico Department of Health and the Public Education Department, collects data self-reported by students from most of the 89 school districts in New Mexico. The survey was completed by 22,249 high school students and 23,628 middle school students. The survey asks students about mental health issues, substance use, physical activity and other behaviors.

A key component of the survey is the resiliency section that measures the protective factors that adolescents have, which include relationships with family, school, adults and peers, community involvement, life skills and constructive use of time. Youth who have good relationships with their parents, peers, teachers and adults in the community have better school outcomes and reduced risk behavior, including lower rates of suicide attempts. Students with low levels of caring and supportive relationships with parents were more likely than students with high levels to attempt suicide in the past 12 months (24.3 percent versus 4.9 percent).

“If adolescents trust and are connected to adults in their community, they are much more likely to be emotionally well and healthy,” said Yolanda Cordova, director of the Office of School and Adolescent Health and Substance Abuse Prevention. “Adults who promote protective factors with the youth in their lives help young people to develop resiliency.”

The biggest change between 2007 and 2009 was the percent of high school students reporting they had attempted suicide: 14.3 percent in 2007 and 9.7 percent in 2009. Those injured in a suicide attempt has gone down from 7.5 percent in 2003 to 5.1 percent in 2005, 4.8 percent in 2007 and 3.2 percent in 2009. About one-third of students report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, a figure that has fluctuated slightly over the years.

“We are glad these numbers are decreasing, but we are still concerned that we have too many children who consider suicide,” said Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil, MD. “We encourage our young people to reach out to an adult they trust if they are struggling with emotional issues.”

Among the middle school students, almost 18 percent reported thinking about killing themselves, 11 percent made a plan to kill themselves and 6.8 percent tried to kill themselves. Girls had a higher rate than boys in each measure, and the prevalence of each behavior increased with grade level. For both high school and middle school, being bullied was associated with suicide attempts.

A new state law requires a health education class for graduation for all students (beginning with students entering the eighth grade in the 2012-2013 school year) that could help increase resiliency factors in youth so they can overcome risk factors around suicidal ideation and low self-esteem. The new class will address interrelationships of mental, emotional, social and physical health.

The Department of Health spends about $500,000 of State funding each year to prevent suicides in New Mexico. The Department contracts with several agencies and organizations throughout the state to implement a variety of activities, including the peer to peer programs, suicide awareness and crisis response and intervention for students and families who have experienced suicide and working with survivors.

Suicide warning signs are behavioral or emotional changes that show someone is in crisis or at risk for suicide. To remember the most relevant warning signs, think of the pneumonic “Is Path Warm.” That stands for Ideation, Substance abuse, Purposelessness, Anxiety/agitation, Trapped, Hopelessness, Withdrawal, Anger, Recklessness and Mood change. If you or someone you know is experiencing any or some of the following feelings, help is available.

The National Suicide Prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Callers will be directed to a New Mexico help line that has information about state resources. For more information about the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition, look up

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome Intern Peter Zeikus!

We are thrilled to welcome Peter Michael Silva Zeikus to our team.
Peter is a student at ENMU-R's Special Services Occupational Training Program. He hails from Albuquerque where he is active in politics and works on the campaign of a Congress hopeful. Peter loves music and sports, especially the Lakers, the Cubs and the Cowboys. He hopes to move back to Albuquerque after he finishes school to either open a restaurant or work in politics.

Peter will be working a few mornings a week helping everywhere he can. He has personality plus and will be a great help during our very busy holiday season.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chaves County DWI Program Event

Chaves County CASA is a member of the Chaves County DWI Council.

In an effort to combat Underage Drinking, and Drinking and Driving in Chaves County, the DWI Awareness and Prevention Program has adopted a Chaves County Memorial Roadside Sign Project.

The Chaves County DWI Awareness and Prevention Program will place its first sign at the location Joe Skeen Chaves County Administration Building, 1 Saint Mary’s Place in memory of Danielle Fleming who lost her life due to an alcohol related accident on June 8, 2004.

The DWI PRogram invites you to join Chaves County and the Fleming Family in our effort to prevent other families from suffering the loss of a loved one and to stop Underage Drinking, and Drinking and Driving.

Date; September 16, 2010

1 Saint Mary’s Place and Southeast Main Street, Roswell New Mexico

Time; 11:00 am

Reception following;
Joe Skeen Chaves County Administration Building
1 Saint Mary’s Place, Roswell New Mexico

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

Share this National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK.

For all of our CASA kids and their families and friends, we know that none of us can live in isolation. Together we can make a difference.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NCASAA Podcast: Helping Children of Incarcerated Parents

Project Family Connect: Working with Children and Youth Impacted by Parental Incarceration

One goal of CASA advocates is to ensure that the youth they serve visit with their biological parents. When their parents are incarcerated, this task is tricky-but certainly not impossible. In this podcast two woman who work on Project Family Connect describe the importance of the parent/child connection while discussing how advocates may overcome obstacles to facilitating meetings between children and incarcerated parents.

Chaves County CASA's Kinship Care Center can also help with these kinds of dynamics. Call Reana Gonzales at 625-0112 for more info and support.

Watch this podcast now for in-service training credit.

September Happenings

Join us for great September events for Volunteers!

Friday the 10th - United Way Football Friday! Wear your favorite NFL jersey and share in healthy activities for our CASA kids.

Tuesday the 14th - CASA Child Centered Meetings (CCM's) - 9:00 am to 3:00 pm - CASA Volunteers will be notified if their cases is being reviewed. This is a great opportunity to find new solutions for difficult cases.

Friday the 17th - Brown Bag In-Service Training - Doug Southern of the Refuge on the lasting effects of therapy - noon in the CASA office

Wednesday the 29th - Brown Bag In-Service Training - Big Brothers, Big Sisters: How we can work together for children - noon in the CASA office

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nicole Wins Coloring Contest

Nicole, one of our visitation children, won our dog coloring contest with this rendition of our coming therapy dog, Emma. She won a giant stuffed dog for her efforts.


Friday, September 3, 2010

New National CASA Podcast: Children and the Grieving Process

In National CASA's latest podcast, Lisa Barsky Firsker, PhD, discusses how to work with children who are dealing with the death of a family member or other significant person in their lives. Firsker, executive director of CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, describes services children may need and shares tips for volunteers about what they should expect from grieving children and how they can work through their own grief.

Listen to the podcast now or subscribe via iTunes to receive the podcasts automatically.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

US Teen Girls Drinking More Alcohol

US Teen Girls Drinking More Alcohol

by John Lester

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America conducted a new survey and found that teen girls are drinking more alcohol than boys. Part of the reason is that teen girls are more likely to perceive benefits from alcohol and drug use.

"Parents need to understand that girls today are just as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as boys because they need more help managing stress and dealing with problems," Tom Hedrick, founding member of Partnership for a Drug-Free America, said in a statement. "Teen girls used to be less likely to be abusers of alcohol and drugs than boys, but they are catching up. And unfortunately parents still think that boys are likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and are less likely to be attuned to the signs in their daughters."

In fact, close to 70 percent of teenage girls agreed that "using drugs helps kids deal with problems at home," the survey shows. This is up 11 percent from a similar survey conducted in 2008. More than half of the individuals surveyed said that drugs can also help them forget about their problems.

Teenage boys in 2009 were also likely to say drugs help them relax in a social setting and that parties were better with drugs, when compared with similar data from the previous year's survey. The survey also showed an 11 percent up-tick in alcohol use by girls.

This increase was markedly higher than what was seen among teenage boys (2 percent increase). In fact, the use of marijuana by teenage girls in the past year was 29 percent higher than it was during the 2008 survey. Teenage boys' use of marijuana increased by 15 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Go to for more information.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

National CASA Podcast: Communicating With Children Using Drawings

Lisa Barsky Firsker, PhD explains how the use of simple materials such as crayons, paper, colored pencils and markers can be a powerful way to communicate with a child. As she says: "Inside every quiet child there is a loud voice trying to get out."

To access the podcast go here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Witnessing Arrests May Increase Stress Risk in Children: Study

A University of Illinois at Chicago study says children in the nation's child welfare system who witnessed the arrest of a household member may have been psychologically traumatized by the arrest.

Susan D. Phillips, assistant professor of social work and the study's lead author, found that children who saw the arrest of a household member had elevated symptoms of posttraumatic stress or PTS -- a psychological response to witnessing a traumatic or life-threatening event.

Even after accounting for other factors that might explain the condition, such as maltreatment or child abuse, the elevated symptoms associated with PTS remained, the study found.

Phillips suggests mental health professionals should be regularly screening to see if children have witnessed an arrest of someone they lived with and get them the help they need.

Data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being was used to examine the experiences of children ages 8 and up who were suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.
The results are published online in the journal Children and Youth Services Review.

CASA's Kinship Care Center provides support for children of arrested parents. For more inforamtion call Reana Gonzales at 575.625.0112.
It's a Girl Thing! Day Camp

Day Four: Middle School Here We Come
Town & Country Bowling generously opened early to take our crowd when the park was rained out. But the sun came out in time for a swim partyat ENMU-R!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Grils Camp Day 3: Peppers Grill Saves the Day!

It's a Girl Thing! Girls Camp

Day Three: Friendships, Feuds, and Feelings

Though a day at the park was rained out, Peppers Grill and Bar quickly jumped in to save the day by grilling up all of the burgers and hotdogs for us. Thanks Chef Robert!

It's a Girl Thing!

Day Camp for Girls Going Into 6th Grade

Day Two: Being a Girl

Learning middle school girls skills like dancing and opening lockers and navigating relationships

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
It's A Girl Thing!
Girls Camp for Girls Going Into 6th Grade

Day One: Celebrating Who We Are and What Makes Us Unique

Many thanks to Altons Power Block Gym for hosting us!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thank You Assistance League!

Adelina Mendez, Pat Coronado, Bettie Lou Cheney, Carrie-Leigh Cloutier,
Sue Evans, Jean Maley, Linda Rhodes, and Jean Lashinsky

Thank you Assistance League!

The Assistance League's Kids Are Pretty Special (KAPS) Program has been supporting CASA for years with donations of diapers, wipes, and car seats in support of abused and drug addicted babies. Now they have received a grant from the Chaves County Community Foundation to keep the donations coming!

We are expecially grateful to Bettie Lou Cheney. She faithfully shops for and delivers diapers and wipes at the drop of a hat.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

About CASA

In 1976 Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup began to suspect that the children in legal disputes over which he presided were not being adequately represented. Unlike their parents and the government agencies involved, the kids had no voice in court. In cases of abuse and neglect or in bitter custody battles the real story often seemed to go untold or was drowned in the exchange of allegations. This kept the judge up nights wondering if he had made the right decisions.

Increasingly consumed by what he saw as the lack of sufficient information about children in these cases, Soukup put out a call for volunteers. He would enlist a few concerned citizens to be his eyes and ears, to advocate for kids who might otherwise fall through cracks in the overburdened legal system and make objective recommendations on their behalf. Word of the new initiative spread rapidly to other jurisdictions in other states as judges across the country began appointing citizen advocates to ensure the voices of children would be heard. In 1990 the United States Congress passed the Victims of Child Abuse Act which recognized the critical importance of child advocacy and encouraged the expansion of CASA programs.

Today CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has grown into a network of more than 59,000 volunteers serving 954 program offices nationwide. Since its inception, volunteers have stood with and contended for well over two million kids, making CASA one of the most successful children’s programs in history. Each year state and local CASA organizations represent nearly a quarter of a million children who are caught up in the legal system.