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.