Program Notes: May 2023
The first week of May marks my first week as Program Director, and I could not be more honored to lead this incredible team of staff and Advocates that Marilyn McQueeney has built at CASA. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you the past few years and the privilege to have been the Case Supervisor for several of you. I look forward to meeting and getting to know all our Advocates in the coming months.
If you’re in the office, please feel free to pop your head around my door and say hello. If you see me at the courthouse, please introduce yourself! I’d love to get to know you better and hear any feedback or suggestions you may have that could help us achieve our vision of a community where families remain connected and childhood abuse and neglect are eliminated.
I wanted to share a little bit about myself. I’m originally from the UK (not Australia, like some have guessed—my accent has gone weird, though!). I’ve lived in Texas for the last 10 years. Immediately prior to moving here, I lived and worked in Venezuela and have been fortunate to have traveled the world in my previous career.
I first came to CASA Child Advocates as a volunteer Advocate in 2018, having been exposed to CASA in my job at the British Consulate when an incarcerated British father I was supporting would write to me about his children and their “CASA.” I’d recently moved from South America, so it took me a few letters to realize he wasn’t talking about his house! This father was released from jail and eventually reunited with his children, in large part because of the volunteer Advocate who worked tirelessly for this family. The impact that this father and his CASA Advocate had on me was profound, and I often wondered who the Advocate was. I hope you know that through your Advocacy, you are not only supporting the children and their families, but you may change the lives of the people connected to them you never meet. Every visit, phone call, meeting, CFE tool, or letter truly makes a difference.
Many of our youth will start their summer break during the coming weeks. Summer can be a particularly challenging time for the youth and their caregivers as they look for events and opportunities to stay occupied. Time away from their school and daily routine can also be troubling for some of our children as it also provides more time to think about who they are not with and what they are not doing. When you’re planning your visits over the next couple of months, think about popping into the office first to pick up toys and items for the children that might help them pass the time. We have lots of Legos, balls, tea sets, dolls, craft kits, and plenty of books. Our office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Pop in any time during those hours—you’re welcome to stay for a cup of tea (or coffee!) too. Finally, enjoy some quality time with your own family this summer and make time for self-care, which is so important.
Program year-to-date statistics
Since our program year started in September 2022, more than 200 Advocates have served 401 children and their families in Montgomery County. In the months of March and April 2023, we had 31 more children come into care in our county due to abuse and neglect, totaling 98 so far for this program year. In the last eight months, our volunteer Advocates have driven 125,000 miles and logged more than 10,000 hours of Advocacy into Optima. With a tremendous thanks to our incredible Advocates, we continue to serve 100 percent of the children in care in Montgomery County.
This organization is built on our volunteers, and I’m incredibly grateful for each and every hour you dedicate to volunteering with CASA. I look forward to serving you as your Program Director.
Susan Truscott, TBRI Practitioner