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CAB Connection - May 2023

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Meet the Decatur Cluster FCRB Members
By Carrie Phelps, Program Coordinator

The Decatur Cluster Foster Care Review Board has been around since the early 2000’s. It serves the rural counties of Decatur, Clarke, Lucas and Wayne counties. Throughout the years the board has had many great volunteer members, however, over the past few years, the board experienced turnover and welcomed new members.


Pictured: Linda Chastain, Larry Heikes, Shelle Mosher, Cheryl Zach, Wilma Frey

The Chairperson, although not all that new to the position, is Larry Heikes. Larry came to the Decatur board after serving on the Appanoose board for several years when he and his wife relocated. Larry felt there was still a need to give, and he enjoyed the work that he did on the board. Unfortunately there was no FCRB in the county where he resided. He felt passionate enough about the role that he offered to drive forty miles from an adjoining county so that he could serve. Larry joined the Decatur board in September of 2019. He is a retired Family Doctor who also once taught university level chemistry. He brings vast medical knowledge to the board which allows the board to make more informed recommendations on evaluations and medical issues. When Larry has free time, he enjoys reading. He has a goal to read 100 books a year and usually reaches it. He is also interested in genealogy. He has over 6000 people on his family tree and has started to work on his wife’s. He serves as an elder at his church and volunteers as a tax preparer for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide.

In July of 2020 the board gained two board members, Linda Chastain and Wilma Frey. Linda joined the board with a background as a financial consultant with more than twenty years experience. She is very active in her community and feels it is very important to give back. In her free time Linda enjoys golfing or reading. Wilma has a very long history with the social welfare system, as her parents were foster parents to more than eight-five children, yes, 85. Some of which they adopted. Wilma has a background in Healthcare Management, has been a 4-H leader for many years and been involved in many other civic organizations. Wilma enjoys knitting and has many spinning wheels that she has used to spin her own yarn.

In December of 2022, the board gained its most recent volunteers, Shelle Mosher and Cheryl Zach. Shelle has a retail degree and owned her own children’s boutique before taking a job at a bank working on the retail side, where she spent the last seventeen years of her employment before retiring. Shelle enjoys spending her free time with her new grand baby, golfing, reading or with her mom. Cheryl has more than thirty-two years of experience working in the social welfare field. She retired in 2010 from her supervisory position with the Department of Human Services (now Department of Health and Human Services). In her spare time she enjoys reading, golf, gardening and spending time with friends and family.

This board works well together bringing their experience and expertise to the table to help them make quality recommendations to the judge. Although this is a fairly new set of board members, they do not lack passion or dedication to the children they serve.


National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to raise awareness and bring attention to the complex issues faced by children and youth in the child welfare and foster care system. This year our focus is on mental and behavioral health, the largest unmet need identified for children and teens in the system.

More than 6,600 Iowa children are in the child welfare and foster care system, according to counts released by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services in March. These children are part of the more than 390,000 children and youth in foster care across the nation, and up to 80 percent of them experience significant mental health issues compounded by the complex trauma of being separated from their family.

But we can help. Volunteers with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Iowa and Iowa Citizens Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) programs are in ideal positions to push for timely efforts to provide appropriate and effective services to improve the overall well-being of the children and youth for which they advocate.    

Our volunteers:

  • Are able to provide detailed insight to judges about the child’s home, family, school, and community for a more complete understanding of how decisions may impact a child’s well-being.
  • Ensure the voice of the child they advocate for is heard and their expressed needs followed up on. This can especially empower youth and teens to make decisions about their own mental health care and the services they receive, giving them ownership and sense of control at an otherwise chaotic time in their lives. 
  • Get to know the child and their individual situations, acknowledging their identity, culture and lived experiences. This understanding helps to better match services and supports to improve long-term outcomes.
  • Provide a stable and caring connection for the child or youth, which research shows improves mental health outcomes and gives them a sense of hope and optimism.  

While exactly how CASA and FCRB volunteers advocate may differ, both work collaboratively with legal and child welfare professionals, as well as educators, and service providers to make sure the best interests of the children are met and the case retains a sense of urgency. Their approaches are person-centered, individualized, and trauma informed, providing a more responsive and tailored case management to strengthen the child and their families and ensure they will thrive.  

Friends Logo

Calling Quad Cities advocates and friends! Friends of Iowa CASA & ICFCRB is partnering with Green Tree Brewery in Le Claire for their monthly charity euchre night on May 9, from 6-9  p.m. We are so excited to be May's beneficiary! During the euchre night, prizes will be raffled off, with the proceeds benefiting Friends of Iowa CASA & ICFCRB. Don’t miss out and feel free to bring a friend – you could win a basket of cookies from Cookies by Design, a whiskey basket sponsored by TBK Bank, swag and tickets to the Quad City River Bandits, and much more!

Thank you to our Light of Hope - Des Moines attendees who came to breakfast at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center April 5! Attendees heard from speakers and advocates Jerry Foxhoven and Allison Fleming, while networking with current CASA and FCRB volunteers. As of April 27, the total raised was just over $16,000! Thank you for helping us change a child’s story!

Spring has sprung, and that means getting your air conditioner ready for the summer months ahead. Friends of Iowa CASA and ICFCRB is partnering with Golden Rule Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical for their first ever Gold Club $300K Giveaway! Starting now, you have the chance to purchase a Gold Club membership with Golden Rule and they will donate the full cost of that membership to Friends ($99/membership)! Make sure to mention our name over the phone or use the coupon code IOWACASAFRIENDS23 on their online store! 

Your Gold Club membership includes annual free inspections for your plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems, and all Gold Club members go to the front of the service line, never pay a trip charge, and get 10 percent off all repairs.

To learn more and purchase online, click here or scan the QR Code!

Gold Club


Welcome to Our New Volunteers!

Athena Aguiar, CASA, Johnson County Kim Brown, FCRB, Louisa County
Parker Boevers, CASA, Johnson County Kristan Evans, CASA, Monroe County
Steve Frigo, CASA, Lee County Eric Gettes, CASA, Clinton County
Erin Maeder, CASA, Linn County Kristina Stevenson, CASA, Jones County


Trainer's Corner

For FCRB Members & CASA Advocates: Building Resilience


Previous newsletter articles focused on emotional relational health and strategies to assist children who may be struggling due to their early childhood experiences.  The HOPE framework (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences) is more of a holistic broader perspective on how positive experiences can build resilience and transform the trajectory of ACEs.  The HOPE National Resource Center, led by Dr. Robert Sege, is based out of Tufts Medical Center in Boston with staff all over the country.  

“Our research has led us to create a new paradigm, based on understanding of how positive childhood experiences (PCEs) drive healthy development and mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Positive experiences allow children to form strong relationships and meaningful connections, cultivate positive self-image and self-worth, experience a sense of belonging, and build skills to cope with stress in healthy ways. The shift in focus builds on previous understandings of the importance of experience in child development, including those ACEs associated with toxic stress.”

“HOPE – Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences – combines a public health approach to preventing child abuse with a broader understanding of how children grow to become strong, healthy, and resilient adults. In the past, approaches to child development focused on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the resulting toxic stress and poor mental and physical health outcomes that can follow multiple ACEs. The language of HOPE – Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences – uses a positive lens, one which focuses on the buffering effects of positive childhood experiences and building on pre-existing strengths, to translate public approaches to the child’s own experiences.”

“The development of HOPE drew on the work of so many, beginning with the Montana Institute’s Science of the Positive framework, which is founded on the core assumption that “The Positive” is real, already exists in people and cultures, and can be developed and expanded. HOPE also drew on the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s family-level protective factors from the Strengthening Families Approach® along with the public health approach of the CDC’s Essentials for Childhood program.”

Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs), is built on research in four areas which can buffer against long term health outcomes associated with adverse childhood experiences, and help children grow into healthy resilient adults.  These are categorized into 4 Building Blocks.  Child Advocates may notice similarities between PCEs and protective factors or benevolent childhood experiences.  There is a lot of overlap between these concepts. Generally, they are all sharing the same message of resilience. While the specific measures are slightly different, PCEs, protective factors, and benevolent childhood experiences all protect future adult health.  


The Four Building Blocks:

  1. Relationships within the family and with other children and adults through interpersonal activities.
  2. Safe, stable, and equitable environments for living, playing, and learning at home and in school.
  3. Social and civic engagement to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness.
  4. Emotional growth through playing and interacting with peers for self-awareness and self-regulation.

See the HOPE Fact Sheet here for more information on the Four Building Blocks.

As an Advocate or Board Member: What are simple things you can do? 

  • Start each encounter with a family or child with a moment of HOPE. What has gone well since the last time you saw each other? What is something they are proud of? Celebrate the successes with them, however big or small. 
  • Create a moment of HOPE by asking about strengths first. Consider asking open-ended questions about relationships, environments, engagement,and emotional growth.
  • Ask about other positive adults in the child's life - coaches, teachers, pastors, mentors. Celebrate those relationships and encourage consistent connection with those individuals.
  • Listen to children when they talk about school. Do they feel safe there? Are they treated well by their peers or school staff? If not, children ,families, and schools can work together on solutions. 
  • Help identify safe places for the child to play outside. Is there a backyard, local park, and recess time where they can play with siblings and friends?
  • Ask children about the activities they do outside of school and encourage the child to be involved in projects, peer mentoring, or community service that interests them or join a music, art or sports group. 
  • Inquire about family and cultural traditions that the child can participate in.
  • For more ways to promote PCEs click here.
Continuing Ed

For Continued Learning:

Transforming Experience Through HOPE

Grounded in the work of the HOPE National Resource Center, The Children’s Bureau Learning and Coordination Center (CBLCC) offers a module that builds your understanding of how positive early experiences can set us on trajectories that promote health and well-being and result in good outcomes later in life. CASAs can complete the CBLCC's interactive learning module and submit their time as “self-found” in-service training through their CAMS account. 


To support your continuous learning journey within our organization and your advocacy efforts as a CASA, please consider registering for one of our upcoming Speaker Series in-service training sessions! 

Success in the Classroom: Advocating for Youth with Disabilities Participant of this workshop will learn about the ways that students with disabilities can be supported in the classroom and the laws that require accommodations in public education systems. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is described and compared to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) along with some important laws that impact kids with disabilities in the general education classroom.  Participants will get a better understanding of: the process of becoming eligible for supports under Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the difference between what is available under each type of pla, and laws that impact kids with disabilities in the general education classroom. Join us on May 15th from Noon to 1 pm as Mari Brown  and Deb Chiodo from ASK Resources shares this important information. This session meets CASAs annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in-service training requirement. Click here to register!

Tour of ASK Resource Center and Transition Iowa Website Resources  Do you advocate on a case with a child or youth with disabilities? Do you want more resources for advocating for older youth with a disability who is transitioning to adulthood? If so, then this workshop is for YOU!  Participants of this workshop will learn about the resources available on the ASK Resource Center website. ASK is a resource center that is funded in part by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to support families and professionals who advocate for children with disabilities. Participants will get a better understanding of the resources available on ASK’s website regarding IEPs, 504 Plans, and Behavior, the resources available on ASK’s website regarding health, Medicaid, HCBS Waivers, and the resources available on the Transition Iowa website to support transition planning for life after high school for youth with disabilities. Join Mari Reyolds and Deb Chiodo from ASK Resources on May 22 from Noon to 1 pm to find out about all the amazing resources and information available!  Click here to register! This session meets CASAs annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in-service training requirement. 

Iowa ACEs 360 Join us as Lisa Cushatt and Bri Deason from Iowa ACEs 360 provide an overview of ACEs and the current state of ACEs in Iowa. Learn how hope and resiliency along with relationships impact ACEs. Appropriate recommendations made by CASAs and Board Members will be discussed and participants will be provided with a lived experience perspective. This training will be recorded so please only register to attend the live event. The recording can be made available upon request following the event. June 5 from Noon to 1 pm. Click here to register!

Quest Mark

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