Monday, December 19, 2011

Bullying in Schools: An Overview

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has released Bullying in Schools: An Overview.

This bulletin examines the connection between different types and frequencies of bullying, truancy, and student achievement, and whether students’ engagement in school mediates these factors. It discusses the results of three studies conducted in 2007 at the National Center for School Engagement, and compares these results with those from a Swedish study. The authors conclude that victimization in the form of bullying can distance students from learning. Schools can overcome this negative effect if they adopt strategies that engage students in their work, creating positive learning environments that produce academic achievement.


Bullying in Schools: An Overview (NCJ 234205) is available online at

Friday, December 16, 2011

Newsletter Focuses on Children Exposed to Violence

OVC announced the release of the November issue of "OVC News & Program Updates," a valuable tool for sharing information about OVC's initiatives, events, and other items of special interest. This edition highlights the impact of child identity theft, child exploitation, the provision of services to drug-endangered children, and more. (OVC)

Friday, December 9, 2011

CASA Toy Drive

During December CASA collects toys and gift items for our needy families.  All gifts are put into our CASA Kids store, where our families can come shop for free. 

Gifts for teenagers are especially welcome.  They are often left out this time of year.

Gifts can be brought to the CASA office, 500 North Main St. #310, in the Bank of America Building.

Thank you!

CEO Michael Piraino Provides Expert Insight for National Inquiry on Overuse of Psychotropic Drugs

As many of you know, National CASA’s CEO Michael Piraino has been prominently featured in media coverage of the recent GAO report concerning the shocking overuse of psychotropic medication among youth in care. Michael was a featured speaker in stories on ABC (World News and 20/20) and on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 program.

This is one of the largest media opportunities in National CASA’s history. According to one researcher, the publicity from the ABC 20/20 clip alone reached nearly 7 million viewers, providing what would be the equivalent of $580,000 in purchased advertising. In addition, Michael has worked to line up interviews with over 30 local radio stations to continue the conversation about this critical issue.

We expect that focus on this issue will rise, both in the media and with our nation’s decision makers. In late November, the Obama administration sent a letter to state officials outlining its concerns with the “safe, appropriate, and effective use” of psychotropic drugs in foster children. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security conducted an investigative hearing on December 1, the release date of the GAO Report. (Video of the testimony can be seen on the committee’s website.) The committee anticipates it will conduct additional inquiry.

We encourage local programs to also take advantage of this opportunity, both to raise awareness of the overuse of psychotropic drugs and the importance of CASA volunteers as advocates for children who need someone to protect their rights. If you have local stories of youth who have suffered from receiving unnecessary psychotropic medications, these stories can provide compelling narratives for the media. The young man featured in ABC’s coverage, Ke’onte Cook, was able to find a permanent home with the help of the CASA program in Hunt County, TX. His adoptive family was then able to take the necessary steps so that Ke’onte would no longer have to take any of these medications. (To learn more about Ke’onte Cook and his adoptive family, we encourage you to read Michael Piraino’s recent blog post.) We need to make the point that part of the solution to this issue lies with providing an advocate for every single child in care.

If you missed any of the coverage featuring Michael Piraino, you can view it online:

ABC—World News (Wednesday, November 30)

ABC—20/20 (Friday, December 2)

CNN—Anderson Cooper 360 (Friday, December 2—partial clip of show)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Happenings

December is a busy month at CASA!

December 5th - Brothers and Sisters in Stitches, a group of quilters that donated gorgeous quilts to our CASA kids, is having tea with us at 10:00 a.m. and producing their marvels of handiwork.

December 9th - Foster Kids Christmas Party at 6:00 p.m. at Country Club Church of Christ.  All CASA Volunteers are welcome.

December 15th - BROWN BAG In-Service training at noon

Mr. Bill Jones will be speaking on two related subjects: The Adoption Tax Credit and it’s impact on parents adopting our kids and the tax benefits for volunteers and how to claim them properly.

December 19th - CASA foster kids store all day at CASA

December 22-January 3rd - CASA office will be closed for the holidays. Staff will be on call.