ICAB Newsletter

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CAB Connection - March 2022

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March is Social Work Month.

We want to acknowledge the invaluable work that
Iowa social workers do on behalf of the people in our communities.

CASA and FCRB volunteers work alongside social workers and
collaboratively serve children and families.

Thank you to IDHS social workers for their work!


Carmen Wipf serves as both a CASA and a FCRB member through the Waterloo ICAB office. She has been serving in both roles since early 2021. 

Prior to her service as an ICAB volunteer, Carmen taught middle and high school for 33 years and coached several sports. She became interested in serving as a volunteer through the invitation of a friend who serves as the facilitator for three FCRBs. Carmen also has several friends and family members who have fostered and adopted children, and she wanted to learn more about how the entire process works and how the various parts of the system work together to assist families. She shared, ”I enjoy teenagers and working side by side with parents. The years spent in the classroom have provided multiple opportunities to work with students and parents from various backgrounds and different needs. My experience has also been beneficial in working with educational services, such as AEA.” 

When asked what she finds rewarding about her ICAB volunteer experience, Carmen stated, ”FCRB gives me the chance to work with other volunteers to provide support and recommendations to families within our community. Some of the stories are somber, and there is much healing and help needed for recovery. We are also blessed to witness a family reunited or children finding their forever home. CASA work allows me the opportunity to get personally involved with a family and the team of professionals who are assisting the family and the child. The CASA is in a position to witness most, if not all, of the supports in place for the child. Working intimately with foster parents and parents, gaining their trust, and working to assure the best interests of the child are being served has been a blessing.” 

Carmen noted she finds serving as a CASA puts her in the unexpected position of being able to see the “big picture” of how the services offered to the child and family work together. She states, “Because of privacy policies, some services are not able to communicate with the others. Being a CASA puts me in a place where I can assist the family and the children to advocate for themselves with each of the services or help their voices be heard where necessary. Again, it is a blessing to see multiple people working together toward a common goal.” 

Carmen noted that her challenge is to not see her role in either the FCRB or CASA program as the final step for the families and children she serves. “The end of our involvement is not the end of the journey for the people we serve. So, even though our involvement may end at a point where the story appears disappointing, we have to remember this does not have to be the end of the story. Even those that have “happy endings” are still being written after our role is finished.” 

She also shared that the work as both a CASA and FCRB member has opened her eyes to the challenges that many families face and that she has learned more about her community in the last year than in her lifetime of living in the Waterloo area. She says, “There is a world of hurting people searching for purpose and love.The work of the church, community resources, and

volunteer involvement cannot be overstated. I have been eager to share the vision and mission of FCRB and CASA with my friends and family members and support and advocate for the community services that support our families.” 

Carmen sees the need for a CASA as vital for children who are adjudicated as Children in Need of Assistance (CINA). She notes that CASA advocacy is of particular importance for families who struggle with self-advocacy. When assigned to a case, Carmen focuses on determining what information is relevant and making solid recommendations to the court. Her goal is to assist with movement toward the best interest of the child. She has also learned that there is a point at which families become over-serviced and the CASA is in a position to ask questions and seek solutions when services are overwhelming the children or family. 

While acknowledging that FCRB can provide encouragement and recommend resources for both foster families and families of origin, Carmen believes that FCRB could strengthen its involvement by encouraging members to attend court hearings and advocate within their towns or counties for services not being offered. She notes that faith-based organizations could be helpful in securing some of the missing resources within a community, but they need to know about the need in order to meet it. 

Carmen’s attitude and approach to her service as both a CASA and a FCRB member help to strengthen both programs, and she is a respected and committed representative of the Waterloo ICAB program. We are fortunate to have her on board!

                                                          ~ Program Coordinator Meg Campbell

Leading the Way

Registration is open for the National CASA/GAL Association for Children Annual
Conference in Seattle June 4-7, 2022, during their 40th anniversary year! With the theme,
“Leading the Way to Brighter Futures,” this conference will bring the vibrant network
together with peers for in-depth learning, networking opportunities and collaborative
discussions about the issues that impact child welfare and our future.
Connect with CASA/GAL colleagues and volunteers from 950 state organizations and
local programs who provide best-interest advocacy on behalf of children and youth. For
more information: National CASA/GAL Conference


Welcome to Our New Volunteers!

Amanda Beller, CASA, Woodbury County Barbara Gardner, FCRB, Lee County
Connie Huffman, CASA, Story County Jordyn Jondle, CASA, Story County
Jennifer Kooiker, CASA, Sioux County Dawn Kramer, CASA, Dickinson County
Elizabeth McDanel, CASA, Clay County Sharon Miller, FCRB, Black Hawk County
Val Miller, CASA, Clay County  


Trainer's Corner

For FCRB Members & CASA Advocates:  Self-Care:  Why should we prioritize this?


The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us, if not all, facing a new world. This can lead us to lingering feelings of being overwhelmed due to new information or changing information, changing work hours or locations, and a new way of caring for your family and yourself. It's important to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts; it is taxing on a person’s well-being, even if it isn’t obvious or apparent to yourself or others. It is normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed during uncertain times. Emotions in response to uncertainty may include anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. You may also could feel helpless, discouraged and, occasionally, out of control. Physical responses may include headache, muscle tension, fatigue and sleeplessness. In addition, we are in roles where we are to support others who are also experiencing similar issues and feelings, along with coping with the fact that the child welfare system is involved in their lives.


We know one of the results of not taking care of ourselves is experiencing high stress levels. This stress can negatively impact our relationships, our work, our body and brain, along with our well-being: our mind and spirit. By taking care of ourselves better we can improve our sleep, our bodies, our health and our peace of mind. It’s what some may term the “fluffy stuff” that social workers and caretakers of the world advocate for others to do, yet they often forget to implement in their own lives. So, the question becomes how do we internalize and act on the importance of self-care? The answer varies between each individual. 

 What is Self-Care?  Self-care can be defined as taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually so that we can better live in balance. Self-care is critical to any “helper” because we can only give what we have.

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” —The Dalai Lama

Here are some reminder tips you can use to take care of yourself:

Physical health:  Fuel your body by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Exercise every day. Take deep breaths and stretch often. Avoid risky or destructive behaviors, such as abusing alcohol or drugs, or excessive gambling. Spend time outside, such as going for a walk in the park.

Mental health: Set and maintain a routine at home. Focus on things you can control. Focus your thoughts on the present and things to be grateful for today. Listen to music or read books. Consume reliable news sources that report facts, and avoid media that sensationalizes emotions. Limit your exposure or take a break from news and social media if you find that it makes you anxious. Lean on your personal beliefs and faith for support. Look for ways to help your community, such as blood donations, checking on older people in your neighborhood, or donating supplies or money to local organizations. Acknowledge and appreciate what others are doing to help you and your community.

Learn more:

***Please speak with your Local Coordinator for referrals to local professionals that can assist you in finding more formal resources regarding self-help.

Continuing Ed


The 2022 ICAB Speaker Series

In January 2022, the Iowa Child Advocacy Board State Office started offering 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!

Upcoming Opportunities!

Judge Owens

A Judge's Perspective on the Past, Present, and Future of Advocacy in Iowa presented by Judge William Owens on March 3, 2022 from Noon to 1pm.

Join us as Judge Owens shares examples of how CASA or FCRB reports have directly assisted the understanding of case issues, the specific needs of the child or in issuing court orders. In addition, hear what key areas advocates and board members can focus on for gathering information and/or recommendations for their court report and identify areas of child or family well-being in which our advocacy efforts can be improved. Click here to Register!


Understanding the Subsidized Guardianship Program presented by Laura Leise, DHS Adoption Program Manager on March 28, 2022 from Noon to 1pm.  The Subsidized Guardianship Program provides financial assistance to caregivers who agree to be the legal guardian for a youth who is in foster care. Guardianship is a safe alternative to adoption, providing permanency for the youth without requiring formal termination of parental rights. The program became effective on July 1, 2019 with new rules regarding changes in benefits and the age of eligibility put into effect on August 1, 2021. Click here to register!  This session will be recorded.

Parent Partner Program presented by Children and Families of Iowa Statewide Parent Partner Director, Sara Persons will share more about this DHS supported program on April 14th Noon to 1 pm alongside a trained Parent Partner.  Click here to register!  As this session will be recorded, please only register to attend the live session.

Kinship Navigator Program presented by Sara Buis, DHS Family Centered Services Program Manager will present on the Kinship Navigator Program across Iowa on April 28th from Noon to 1pm.  Learn about this resource available to families! Click here to register! As this session will be recorded, please only register to attend the live session.

Previous Opportunities!

Inclusion Through a Different Lens was offered on January 31st. This session was presented by Breanne Ward, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor provided key training initiatives to Iowa’s Department of Human Services caseworkers and supervisors and 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.  Reach out the State Trainer to view the recording and receive in-service credit. This session will meet your 2022 annual diversity training requirement.   


Adoption in CINA Cases was 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. Reach out the State Trainer to view the recording and receive in-service credit.

Question Mark

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