ICAB Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

CAB Connection - November 2021

ICAB Newsletter Header
Winter Speaker

35 Years

History of Iowa CASA - 35 years

Respectfully submitted by VeeAnn Cartwright, CASA Coordinator, 1986-2010, Retired
Friends of Iowa CASA & ICFCRB, 2011-2021

We stand on the shoulders of giants! Those ‘giants’ are former Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court W. Ward Reynoldson, and then Juvenile Court Referee Larry J. Eisenhauer. They had the vision and passion to help children by bringing the CASA Program to Iowa. In late 1985, Chief Justice Reynoldson learned about CASA at a judicial conference in Reno, Nevada. At about the same time, a child placement study committee in Iowa recommended a child advocacy program for Iowa children in juvenile court. Chief Justice Reynoldson returned from Reno and appointed an Advisory Board to develop the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program in Iowa.

In January 1986, Iowa became the 47th state to adopt the CASA Program, with Juvenile Court Referee Larry J. Eisenhauer as Chair of the Advisory Board, which included attorneys, community leaders and stakeholders, and DHS/juvenile court personnel. They met for eight months writing policies and procedures for CASA volunteers and establishing the forms ~ some which are still used today. The Board hired Janet Carl as the first Administrator and chose to start CASA as a pilot project in six counties (Plymouth, Sioux, & Woodbury) in NW Iowa, and three counties in central Iowa (Polk, Warren, & Marion). In August 1986, CASA Coordinators were hired for the 3rd & 5th Judicial Districts, and the first volunteer training was in October 1986. After two years as a project, the Judicial Branch adopted the CASA Program and over the next fifteen years, it expanded to 30 counties in Iowa.

In 2001, the Judicial Department experienced a severe budget deficit, and in November 2001, the CASA Program was cut. Following the announcement, there was an overwhelming response from the public asking the State not to drop such a valuable program for children. It’s my understanding, the legislators received more phone calls in support of reinstating our program than ever received before for any cause! After several months of negotiating, the Legislative Branch took over the operations of the CASA program, and we were housed in the Ola Babcock Building. In June 2002, we moved to the Executive Branch under the direction of the Iowa Child Advocacy Board where we are today.

There’s another giant I would like to highlight, Judge David Soukup, Seattle, WA. Judge Soukup organized the first team of CASA volunteers in King County, WA in 1977. While sitting as a judge in juvenile court, he realized there was no one in the courtroom to provide a voice for the child. He was losing sleep and worried about making the wrong decision because he didn’t have enough information about the child’s situation. Judge Soukup put up a sign in the courthouse asking for anyone interested in volunteering to be an advocate to meet in his courtroom. The response was overwhelming, and the CASA Program became the fastest growing child advocacy program in the country.

There were skeptics early on, because this was the first time child abuse reports were released to someone other than a legal party. But our training is superb, and from the beginning, we stressed the importance of confidentiality. In our 35 years, only a few volunteers have been relieved of their duties because of breaching confidentiality. Yes, we had to prove ourselves over and over, but that has made us stronger. The real difference the CASA makes is the value of one volunteer/one family, and the commitment to stay on the case until it is closed by the court. In that time, the CASA volunteer truly knows the child and knows the dynamics of the case. At the end of the hearing, the judge often says to the CASA, is there anything else you would like to add to your report? Quite often the judge adopts the CASA recommendations.

When I interviewed for the local coordinator position in August 1986, they asked the question, “Can you recruit 100 volunteers the first year?” I chuckled and said, “Absolutely not, because I would be looking for the very best, not just anyone!” I believe that has been our secret to success since the beginning. Judge Eisenhauer advised me at one point that no one has the right to be a CASA; it’s a privilege to be a CASA! I had a sign in my office that read CASA - a common person with an uncommon commitment - a commitment to visit the child and everyone on the case once a month, to write detailed reports to the court, attend court hearings and staff meetings, and make recommendations regarding the best interest of the child. That really is the heart and soul of the CASA Program. Yes, CASA volunteers are common citizens, but they have most definitely made an uncommon commitment and that has made all the difference. Because of that, we are celebrating 35 years of helping children!

I believe in CASA because I’ve seen it work for children over and over again - when the CASA report gives the judge information no one else has, when the CASA advocates for sibling visits because they are placed in different foster homes, when the CASA drives to an out-of- town placement to make sure the child’s voice is heard, when the CASA stops by a parent’s home consistently to find out who is involved with the child and is the home safe for the child, and when the CASA testifies to a clarify important information. It’s played out all across our state because of the commitment of CASA volunteers.

Congratulations to all for a productive, impactful and successful 35 years! Together we’ve made a difference in the lives of vulnerable children in Iowa!


A Tribute to VeeAnn Cartwright

If you ever met VeeAnn, you would find her to be one of the most kind and genuine people in all the world. As a Coordinator, she has led the CASA program from its inception and before that was on a Foster Care Review Board. She continues to impact this work to this day as a board member of the Friends of Iowa CASA and ICFCRB.

We are unable to imagine just how brave and courageous VeeAnn must have been as she began the CASA program in Des Moines in 1986. While the tone of her voice is quiet and respectful, her work spoke volumes and she gained the trust of professionals all around her. And as humble as she is, she truly has a legacy to be proud of. Her influence on local coordinators who came after her continues to this day. She had wisdom that we all benefitted from as we stepped out to work in CASA alongside her, even though we worked in different parts of the state. It was because of her success in creating a program to emulate that CASA has grown and has the honor to boast of our 35 years of service to children.

VeeAnn’s passion to serve children and families in crisis is contagious and her belief in the programs of the Iowa Child Advocacy Board runs deep. She has experienced first-hand the amazing work that is done by our incredible volunteers and how they have, and continue to, impact the lives around them. We are more than grateful for VeeAnn’s heart and care for the CASA program and the thousands of children who have had their voices lifted by CASA Advocates. Thank you VeeAnn for who you are, for what you have given to this life of service, and for touching so many lives.    


As pictured: Linda Chastain, Jeanne Vogel, Dr. Larry Heikes, Wilma Frey
By Coordinator Carrie Phelps

The Decatur Cluster Foster Care Review Board serves Decatur, Clarke, Lucas and Wayne counties. The board is made up of four board members at this time. They consist of Chairman, Dr. Larry Heikes, Linda Chastain, Wilma Frey and Jeanne Vogel. 

Dr. Heikes is a retired general practitioner who had served eight years on a board in Appanoose County before he and his wife relocated to Warren county. Dr. Heikes was eager to serve on another board and was willing to commute so that he could serve children through his board work.

Linda Chastain has a background in education as well as in finance consulting. Linda has a true passion for helping her community become a better place. She has served on the local hospital board as well as others within her community. 

Wilma Frey has a long history in different capacities related to foster care. Growing up, her parents fostered 85 children through the foster care system. She had adopted siblings, and her and her husband adopted a son through the foster care system. Ms. Frey is currently retired. Before her retirement, she worked as a nurse working with elderly and cognitively challenged adults. Some of her responsibility there was to make sure rules and regulations were being followed, and thinking outside of the box to solve issues. She serves locally as a member of the meal site, and works with local 4H groups.

Jeanne Vogel is our newest member to the board. Jeanne was sworn in by Judge Monty Franklin on September 29, 2021. Jeanne is also very active in her community, serving on the Rotary and hospital auxiliary. She has a passion for helping children in her community.

These board members have already shown their dedication and passion to helping children. We’d like to thank each one of them for devoting their time to advocate for Iowa’s most vulnerable children!

Iowa Child Advocacy Review Panel


As part of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements, each state is required to have three citizen review panels. As noted in Iowa Administrative Code 441-175.43(235A), these panels “identify strengths and weaknesses of the child protective service system as a whole, including community-based services and agencies. The specific objectives are to clarify expectations for child protective services with current policy; to review consistency of practice with current policy; to analyze trends and recommend policy to address them; and to provide feedback on what is or is not working, and why, and to suggest corrective action if needed.”

The Iowa Child Advocacy Review Panel was established in September 2021 to serve as Iowa’s third panel and currently consists of active CASA and FCRB volunteers. The panel is coordinated by Shirley Hoefer, FCRB Deputy Administrator and is led by Chairperson, Harvey Weinberg and Vice-Chair, Theresa McBride. Additional members include: Carol Flaherty, Scott Fortune, Megan Johnson, Martha Kroese, David Ladwig, Tricia McCabe, Dawn Peters, and Ken  Williams. We look forward to getting started as a citizen review panel.

Additional members are being sought to round out the panel, especially volunteers from the eastern side of the state to have statewide coverage. If you are interested in learning more about this volunteer opportunity, contact Shirley Hoefer at shirley.hoefer@dia.iowa.gov or by calling 563-207-7441.


Welcome to Our New Volunteers!

Terry Arons, FCRB, Linn County Megan Boushek, FCRB, Polk County
Christine Bruner, CASA, Story County Kaelin Cosgrove, CASA, Dallas County
Alisha Dean, CASA, Woodbury County Carol DeZwarte, CASA, Polk County
Laura Faurot, CASA, Pottawattamie County Sara Fender, CASA, Pottawattamie County
Shirley Holbach, CASA, Polk County James Mascarello, CASA, Woodbury County
Megan McKibbin, CASA, Scott County Joann Mulholland, CASA, Black Hawk County
Kristin Ray, CASA, Scott County Dianne Roeder-Richter, CASA, Clayton County
Linda Sorden, CASA, Linn County Jennifer Spray, CASA, Scott County
Delainey Thorud, CASA, Polk County Yanet Velasquez, CASA, Polk County
Amy Young, CASA, Scott County  


Yard Signs

Polk County CASA Advocates, Board Members and Coaches,

Polk County CASA received a grant from National CASA to recruit additional volunteers to serve an increased number of children. One of the ways we hope to increase awareness is to display yard signs. We have two different versions (w/ stands): one that lets people know you are a CASA volunteer and the other is to promote the CASA Program. If you would like one or both for your yard, or a few yards in your neighborhood, please contact Coordinator Kevin Schnoebelen at 515-669-9153. If you have any business connections or friends who may be interested in helping with this outreach please let us know. As always – we are grateful for your help!   

Kum & Go Gift Cards for CASA Advocates

Kum & Go

We have $25 Kum & Go gift cards available to any CASA Advocate with an active case who travels to see the children on their case.  ICAB received the gift cards through a grant from Variety to Friends of Iowa CASA & ICFCRB.  They will be given out on a first come first serve basis.

Please email:  cab@dia.iowa.gov with your name and address
if you are interested in receiving one.

Thank you for all you do!

Trainer's Corner

For FCRB Members & CASA Advocates:


Adoption and Permanency
Why do we care about permanency?

Each year more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care.  These youth do not have permanency in their life. The ultimate goal for children and youth in foster care is for them to transition to safe and permanent families. As youth age, however, they are less likely than younger children in foster care to achieve legal permanency. Youth who exit care without achieving permanency are at risk for a number of negative outcomes, including lower income, poorer health, and higher arrest rates.


What is Permanency?

It means having positive, healthy, nurturing relationships with adults who provide emotional, financial, moral, educational, and other kinds of support as youth mature into adults. Ideally, permanency takes the form of a relationship that has a legal component that provides a parent-child relationship.

Permanency for youth in foster care should include a permanent legal connection to a family, such as reuniting with birth parents, adoption, kinship care, or legal guardianship. However, when these options are less likely, workers can help youth pursue physical or relational permanency. Physical permanency is having a home or a place to be; relational permanency is having a relationship or connection with a caring adult (e.g., maternal and paternal kin, teachers, neighbors, former foster parents).  Such adults may provide lifelong support that can help youth transition to adulthood, and they may even become a legal permanent option. In such instances, formalizing the permanent connection can help clarify what the youth can expect from the caring adult.

What can we do?

Helping youth think about adoption and the importance of having lifelong supportive relationships requires ongoing conversations and a willingness to listen closely and carefully to what youth are telling you— directly and indirectly—about their goals, concerns, questions, and dreams. Conversations with youth should be authentic—not scripted—and responsive to how each youth wants to engage. There are many effective ways to prompt these discussions and help youth explore the idea of adoption. The questions below may be used as a starting place or as topics to incorporate into your conversations with older youth.  

The All-In Campaign, a partnership between FosterClub, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and the Children's Bureau, was created in 2020 to integrate youth’s voices into a national effort to achieve permanency for waiting children and youth.  This campaign includes a Youth Engagement Team made up of 11 people with lived experience in foster care. Team members engaged in three conversations with ACF and Children's Bureau leadership on permanency, which can be accessed after filling out a free form. 

Three recommendations have been posed for improving permanency and well-being in ACF Youth Engagement Team Recommendations: A Resource for Agencies and Courts .  The recommendations are supporting permanency with kin, supporting relational permanency, and supporting older youth adoption. Key questions and strategies are identified in the linked resource to assist you in your CASA and FCRB advocacy efforts.  Below are two additional resources to support your critical efforts to improving permanency and well-being.

 As a Reminder:  For more information, resources and related articles on Adoption and Permanency, watch for regular posts on our state Facebook page throughout the month of November. https://www.facebook.com/CASAIOWA/

Training Courses

For CASA Advocates:  In-Service Training Credit

 If you would like to earn in-service credit from reviewing these resources and/or listening to the recordings  referenced above about permanency, please contact the ICAB State Training Specialist at lesa.christianson@dia.iowa.gov.