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CAB Connection - January 2022

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From the Desk of Administrator, Steffani Simbric

This summer I had the opportunity to hear from one of the kids served by ICAB both through our CASA and FCRB programs.  I was caught by complete surprise as this person had set up a meeting with me through her professional work (she’s an adult now), requesting to talk about collaboration between our agencies.  In preparation for our meeting, I was planning to give her information and resources about our program.  Little did I know she knew more than me!  She went on to describe how meaningful the ICAB programs were to her and how they impacted her life. She specifically talked about the impact her CASA volunteer had on her; mentioning how her advocate was there for her through the duration of her experience/case.  She valued the time they spent together and fondly recalled all the time they spent talking about books and how important that was for her and to her experience.  She also talked about memories of being reviewed by FCRB.  I share this experience because I think it’s important to recognize the real and LASTING impact we can and do have on the children we serve.

Throughout all levels of this organization, I see great things happening.  Our recent volunteer survey tells us many of our volunteers have made a long-term commitment to this important work, with 50% of the respondents having served for 3+ years.  Volunteers cite several inspiring reasons for getting into and staying with ICAB, and many of you identified the importance of getting more volunteers and serving more areas of the state.  In addition, our volunteers have been a major source of recruitment for ICAB, with more than 40% of volunteers responding to the survey saying they were recruited to do so by a friend/relative/current volunteer.  This is a true testament of the value you see in this work.  Furthermore, our volunteers spoke very highly of the staff in this year’s survey.  This is a true testament to the hard work going on behind the scenes every day to ensure kids are being served with excellence.

This work is only possible because of the caring and committed citizens who have chosen to join the ICAB in advocating for the protection of Iowa’s children and improvement of the child welfare system.  This mission was achieved during FY21 through the amazing work of 740 highly trained, dedicated volunteers and 37 professional staff.  Together we served 2,435 of Iowa’s children experiencing abuse and/or neglect.  

Thank you to everyone (staff, volunteers, and stakeholders) for your role in making a difference in the lives of Iowa children.   


Reflecting and Celebrating ~

As the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute took a look back at 2021, it mentioned how 2021 brought a slew of unexpected challenges and aptly offered an exercise wherein we each take a few moments to reflect on and celebrate our 2021 experiences. Some of these questions are not as easily answered as others.  But if completed, it may help show you the positives of 2021 and hopefully set an encouraging tone for your 2022.

What is an important lesson you learned this year?

What is the best thing that happened?

What challenges did you overcome?

What new skills did you learn?

What did you do for your career or personal growth?

What was your favorite moment?

How did you have fun?

How regularly did you tend to your self-care?

Thank you for your dedication and tireless commitment to children, youth, families, and your communities. It is an honor to work alongside you. We wish you an awesome 2022!


Welcome to Our New Volunteers!

Megan Bannister, CASA, Polk County Katie Boatright, CASA, Jefferson County
Julie Gray, CASA, Black Hawk County Sonja Hannan, CASA, Dubuque County
Casey Jeske, CASA, Polk County Jennifer Kapler, CASA, Dubuque County
Alice Miller, CASA, Black Hawk County Kate Mohr, CASA, Polk County
Johanna Theeler, CASA, Johnson County  


Trainer's Corner

For FCRB Members & Casa Advocates:  Poverty in America


Poverty is a common thread across the lives of the children and families involved in the child welfare system. Its impact can have deep and long-lasting impact and consequences. In most states, neglect cannot be established if failure to provide for a child’s needs is due only to poverty. Poverty may still contribute to neglect indirectly. For example, a poor family may lack necessary resources to buffer other risks.

Did you know?:

  • Children from poor households are also more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, hearing, vision and speech delays.
  • Low-income families are at a disproportionately high risk of child maltreatment, and living in poverty is associated with poor parenting and child outcomes.
  • Income instability is shown to be negatively associated with school engagement in adolescents and positively associated with suspensions and expulsions.
  • Poverty is seen as a significant obstacle for families involved with the child welfare system.

Thank you for your willingness to expand your knowledge, particularly about topics that may affect the children and families we serve.  Use the following podcast list as a resource for your continuous learning journey.  If you elect to listen to a podcast and would like to earn additional independent study in-service training credit, please reach out to the State Trainer at lesa.christanson@dia.iowa.gov.

Pod Cast


Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Employment with SEE Change magazine, featuring Maria Kim of Cara.

Since 1991, Chicago-based organization, Cara, has been helping people experiencing poverty and homelessness move toward self-sufficiency by assisting them in finding jobs and opportunity. Over the course of conversation Maria highlights the challenges Cara and its social enterprises have endured over the years, particularly during the pandemic – and how their unique approach has helped them rise above. Listen here.

Center for Poverty & Inequality Research Podcasts

This podcast series, produced by the Center for Poverty & Inequality Research at University of California-Davis, brings together experts in their fields to discuss new poverty research and public policy. Listen here.

Poverty, Homeless, Minimum Wage & Measurement by the University of Texas-Austin

This podcast discusses poverty, homelessness, the minimum wage, and measurement issues. Listen here.

The Poverty Research & Policy Podcast

The Poverty Research & Policy Podcast is produced by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) and features interviews with researchers about poverty, inequality, and policy in the United States. Listen here.

Introducing the 2022 ICAB Speaker Series

Starting in January 2022, the Iowa Child Advocacy Board State Office will be scheduling a year-long speaker series to support your continuous learning journey within our organization and your advocacy efforts as a CASA or FCRB volunteer.

Join us as we gather together in learning!


Inclusion Through a Different Lens presented by Breanne Ward. Breanne Ward is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a nationally recognized certified rehabilitation counselor with the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). In 2014, she founded ForWard Consulting, LLC to provide culturally relevant speaking engagements and more motivation-led conversations for community change.  Since that time, she has been contracted to provide key training initiatives to Iowa’s Department of Human Services caseworkers and supervisors and has joined with ICAB to share practical and relevant ways to address cultural differences within staff relations and direct service with families for CASA and FCRB volunteers and staff.  January 31, 2022 from Noon to 1 pm. Watch for an upcoming email with registration information from the State Office:  cab@dia.iowa.gov


Adoption in CINA Cases: presented by DHS Adoption Program Manager, Laura Leise on February 24, 2022 from Noon to 1 pm. Learn about the adoption process and adoption assistance benefits that may be available to families who adopt children from foster care in Iowa. Watch for an upcoming email with registration information from the State Office:  cab@dia.iowa.gov

If you have questions, please contact the State Trainer at lesa.christanson@dia.iowa.gov.