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Susan Truscott

December, 2020

Thank you all so much for your on-going dedication and commitment to CASA and, in particular, to your CASA children.

I am so grateful to have such a dedicated team of Advocates. I know there has been a lot of information to digest over the last few weeks and months, especially for those of you who are new and have taken on your first case, so I wanted to summarize some of it within this newsletter as a useful reminder (and to keep it all in one place).

  • Quarter 4 comes to a close at the end of December and I ask that you update Optima for all Q4 activity by 10 January 2021. As we head towards the end of the final quarter of the year, a reminder that you should be completing educational and medical advocacy at least once a quarter – eg, once again between 09/01/2020 and 12/31/2020. Educational advocacy – for school age children – can include making contact with their teachers for updates or obtaining copies of school reports. Texas CASA has recently launched a new health advocacy guide which provides useful information on medical advocacy. Speaking to a child’s therapist falls under medical advocacy so please keep doing this too. Please reach out to me if you have any questions.
  • During the Fall Conference training, you may have picked up that we are now being asked to complete ACES scores for all of our children. If we haven’t yet discussed this, I will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks to take this forward. As a program, we are aiming to have assessed all of CASA children and recorded the scores on Optima. I hope to have it done for all children by the end of 2020.
  • If you haven’t yet done so, please now update the school tab section of Optima for any school age children; you will find the school tab under the “children in case” section of Optima and the magnifying glass to the right of each child. Please also record if the child has an Individualized Education Plan where relevant.
  • Thank you for everyone who has completed and recorded Collaborative Family Engagement Tools with your children/ their families. We have had some great results. If you have not yet done this, please consider discussing a Connectedness Map next time you speak to the parents and/or child and also think whether a genogram/ family tree would help. If you would like further advice in this area, please reach out to me. 
  • Some Advocates have now been able to visit the CPS offices to review the CPS case files and observe certain parent-child visits. CPS are limiting the numbers of staff in their offices for now, but if you wish to do this, please liaise with your caseworker (but also please don’t take offence if they say they can’t accommodate your request at this time). Note: Due to COVID, this is still just a suggestion and not a requirement.
  • Thank you to those of you who have completed the fall conference training and updated your activity in the training log section of Optima. A reminder that all Advocates need to complete 12 hours of continuing education throughout the year (ending 8/31/21). Well done for making such a great dent into that for those of you who have already completed all the fall conference sessions (about 7 hours of education). I have a CASA T-shirt for you all to collect when you are next in the CASA office; come say hi!

Thanks again for being there for your CASA children; every day you are changing lives for the better and for that, I thank you. I wish you all a safe and cheerful holiday season and look forward to us all closing the door on 2020 and welcoming in 2021!

With thanks and heartfelt best wishes to you all,

Susan Truscott, Case Supervisor
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County