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Welcome to the CASA Bulletin Blog!

Here, you will be able to read all articles attached to the CASA Bulletin Newsletter.

The brain is so fascinating and complex. It is the core of who we are and controls how we feel, how we think, and every aspect of our lives. The brain has been described as the most complex structure in the known universe. Learning to control your thoughts and process your emotions are skills that are not easily accomplished. These skills are even more difficult to accomplish with an ADHD brain. We know the children we work with have to deal with many triggers that can affect their emotions. Anger is an emotion we see and may manifest in other ways. The following article helps explain how the ADHD brain works and gives tips on how to learn to control anger in a healthier way.

Take a moment to think about growing up and the siblings you shared your childhood with. Even if you were an only child, you probably grew up with cousins that you were close to. Now imagine them gone from your life in the blink of an eye. For many foster youth with siblings, this is their reality. When children enter the foster system, they suffer traumatic loss including separation from siblings.

Part of the concern for our Advocates should be how to maintain sibling relationships, especially if they are in different placements. Some things to consider are advocating for regular sibling visits and even inquiring as to the possibility of placing siblings together. This may be accomplished by working with DCFS caseworkers and
caregivers of the foster children. Maintaining sibling ties is vital to the well-being of the children.

We probably all know people, either at work or in our personal lives, who are really good listeners. No matter what kind of situation we're in, they always seem to know just what to say – and how to say it – so that we're not offended or upset. They're caring and considerate, and even if they don't find a solution to our problem, we usually leave feeling more hopeful and optimistic. Growing up it was considered those people had "good people skills".

People like this are now considered to have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as EI or EQ, is the ability to recognize, interpret, and regulate your own emotions, as well as those of other people. They know themselves very well, and they're also able to sense the emotional needs of others.

We all have different personalities, different wants and needs, and different ways of showing our emotions. Navigating through this takes tact and cleverness. Your EI skills are abilities that allow for better emotional understanding and management. Some experts even suggest that EI might be more important than IQ, or intellectual intelligence.

As a CASA volunteer, EI plays a big part of advocacy. The advocate must be aware of their own emotions within the case, know their personal triggers, but also be able to read and understand the child(rens) emotions. Also, while gathering information and communicating with all of the parties involved, they must be able to process the emotions of the party. In a CINC case, there may be a lot of different and high emotions involved. To have the ability to try to understand the traumatic emotions and where they could be coming from, can be critical.

The good news is, that you are able to develop your emotional intelligence just as you would your intellectual intelligence. Attached is an article from explaining “5 Key Emotional Intelligence Skills” with ways you can improve each skill.

Happy Fall, Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice!

Happy October everyone!  Now that the temperatures are in the 90’s we can finally walk outside and enjoy some outdoor activities without it posing health risks, dehydration, and sunburns.

October is my very favorite time of the year because by this time we have a routine going at home, the water activities for the summer have wrapped up, and we can finally start to cook stews or soups along with all of the baking possibilities. October also reminds us that the holidays are upon us, to be specific we have thirty-one days until Halloween, fifty-five days until Thanksgiving, and eighty-five days until Christmas. Although holiday planning can become stressful with all of the school fall activities, trunk-a-treats, and family gatherings, we can agree that we are blessed with the nonsense of  worrying about the small details.

With this in mind, as CASA’s let's be mindful of the children we serve. Many of you are assigned to new cases where foster care is a new journey and adapting to the new environments can be difficult. Some of you may have children whose permanency is still to be determined. I encourage you to talk to your CASA children about what holidays mean to them. Do they have a special memory or is there a new tradition they would like to begin? If you have school-age children become familiar with the activities that the school will be hosting and coordinate with the foster parents to be there to cheer them on or create those activities with them.

Please read Celebrating the Holidays with Foster Youth: Do’s and Don’ts and The Holidays: When Things Get Rough for some insight into what foster children have to say and some suggestions of activities to do with your CASA children.

When kids struggle in school, you may hear the term IEP. What is an IEP? IEP is an acronym that stands for Individualized Education Program. Some people may refer to it as an Individualized Education Plan.

An IEP is more than just a written legal document (or “plan”). It’s a map that lays out the program of special education instruction, support, and services kids need to make progress and thrive in school.

IEPs are covered by special education law, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They’re created for eligible kids who attend public school, which includes charter schools.

There are many benefits to getting an IEP. The process begins with an evaluation that shows a student’s strengths and challenges. Families and schools use the results to create a program of services and supports tailored to meet the student’s needs.

Having an IEP gives students, families, and schools legal protections, too. It lets families be involved in decisions that impact their child’s education. It also gives students rights when it comes to school discipline.

Read the 8 Benefits of Individualized Education Programs, for Students with Learning Disabilities for a deeper dive.

We live in such a fast-paced world that it is easy to get overwhelmed, over-stressed, and near burnout. It is important to remember that while our bodies need the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to do certain tasks, it is not healthy to live in a constant state of high stress. If you have been to any TBRI training we discuss the effects of a constant high level of cortisol and the negative effect it has on the body and more importantly the brain. This month I want to share with you a Stress Management Quick Reference Guide.

Don't forget that the most important person you are supposed to take care of is YOU!

A CASA of Terrebonne Teen reveals his story, its traumas, its endurance to be good, and the hopes for a happy ending.

At our most recent Lunch and Learn we met a biological mother who lost custody of her children because of her addictions. She will tell you that by the time DCFS came in contact with her family she had been fighting her demons and "functioning" as best she could way before "the system" came knocking at her door.

Although this did not come easy, she kept showing up to visit her child and slowly she began to address her traumas and addictions. By grace, things came together and she was able to reunite with her child. Today she continues to thrive and she reminded us of how important it was for her to be treated with dignity despite her actions.

Ten years later her contact with our office couldn't have come at a more perfect time. As volunteers and staff, we need those reminders of how our work does make a difference. At the end of the day, if we have helped a whole family or a child, the fight was worth fighting. We always say let's keep planting seeds in hopes that one day they will sprout. Even if we never see them flourish, the hope is that one day they will grow.

In a recent Facebook post, Ann Beeson's former CASA child shared her gratitude for having Ann while she felt lost in foster care. She is not only her CASA but for becoming her "Gammy".

Mrs. Yvonne has impacted many lives throughout her legacy at CASA of Terrebonne. She has been awarded Advocate of the Year and continues to push forward to do what is needed for her CASA children.

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