BIA of NH & CASA of NH Announce Partnership

The Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire (BIA) and Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire (CASA) announced a new partnership to provide greater exposure for CASA and its important work to protect the best interests of abused and neglected children in New Hampshire’s family courts.

CASA of NH is a statewide nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers, known as guardians ad litem (GAL), to advocate in New Hampshire’s courts on behalf of abused and neglected children. A GAL’s role is to help a child or children caught up in the court system, through no fault of their own, grow up in safe, permanent homes with loving families to raise them. GALs are appointed by the courts, usually through CASA of NH, to recommend solutions that are “in the best interests of a child.”

BIA is New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce whose nonpartisan work primarily focuses on representing business interests at the State House with state legislators, the governor, and state regulators. BIA represents more than 400 leading employers in a variety of industries including manufacturing, technology, professional services, financial services, health care, hospitality and tourism, public utilities, higher education, insurance, and many others. Member firms employ 93,000 people throughout the state and contribute $4.5 billion annually to the state’s economy.

“Given our work ‘mixing it up’ in the state public policy arena, I’m pleased to share a softer, gentler side of BIA through our partnership with CASA of NH. Helping CASA recruit volunteer GALs and increase exposure for its important work allows BIA to play a modest role in addressing a critical, social need,” said BIA President Jim Roche, himself a CASA volunteer.

“We are grateful to have this unique opportunity to work with the BIA and the exposure it will provide CASA to such a tremendous network of businesses around the state,” said CASA of NH CEO & President Marty Sink. “We look forward to being able to share more about the amazing work of our CASA guardians ad litem and the ongoing need for more CASAs to support New Hampshire’s children.”

“For business leaders looking for meaningful volunteer work, who want to make a real and lasting difference in a child’s life, in ways that, frankly, the child may never know about or appreciate (but YOU will), this is it,“ said Roche. “Marty Sink and her team at CASA of NH will train you, provide resources, and guide you in this endeavor. You don’t need to be an attorney. Most of us aren’t. You just need genuine interest, a caring heart, some of your time, good communication skills, and a desire to make this corner of our world a better place,” Roche concluded.

For information about becoming a CASA of NH guardian ad litem or supporting CASA’s work, visit www.casanh.org.

###

About the BIA:

The Business and Industry Association is New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate. BIA represents more than 400 leading employers in a variety of industries including manufacturing, technology, professional services, financial services, health care, hospitality and tourism, public utilities, higher education, insurance, and many others. Member firms employ 93,000 people throughout the state and contribute $4.5 billion annually to the state’s economy. While proud of its many large members, 69% of BIA members have an annual payroll of $3 million or less. Through advocacy with state legislators and regulators, BIA works to promote a healthy climate for job creation and a strong New Hampshire economy. For more information about the BIA, visit BIAofNH.com

CASA’s Year of Accomplishments

Ring in the New Year with 10 Highlights from 2020!
In a year filled with challenges we never could have anticipated, join us as we look back on our incredible accomplishments of 2020. From advocates acclimating to an all-virtual world of advocacy to live-streamed fundraising events, this was a memorable year in many ways!

1. CASA’s Largest Training Class Ever


We kicked off the year netting nearly an application a day, and held our largest in-classroom training in January with 29 graduates from all over the state. It was so large, we split the class into two smaller groups.

2. Celebrating 20 Years of Snowfest


In February, we held our last in-person gathering at our 20th Annual Snowfest at Loon Mountain. Though this annual volunteer appreciation event will look a bit different in 2021, we cannot wait to see our volunteers and friends again in person!

3. Governor Sununu Declares CASA Appreciation Day


In April, in the midst of Child Abuse Prevention Month and Volunteer Appreciation Week, Gov. Chris Sununu dedicated a few minutes of his COVID-19 daily briefing to declare April 22 as CASA Appreciation Day.

4. First Virtual Information Session Launched


Also in April, we held our first-ever virtual information session. Since then, we’ve held 18 more, registering more than 700 people who have either attended or were sent a link to review the session on their own. We will continue to host three per month through 2021.

5. Virtual Training Takes Off With Dual Classes


In May we launched our first-ever virtual training class! Read the enthusiastic endorsement from one of our online training attendees and watch our new video that highlights this new virtual training opportunity, produced by Heartwood Media.
Since the beginning of 2020, we have had one in-person training class with 31 graduates and 8 virtual training classes with 149 virtual graduates!

6. New Hampshire Gives Day Success


On June 9, you helped make NH Gives Day our most successful day of giving ever. With the support of 164 amazing donors, we raised over $42,000 in a single day, landing us at #11 on the NH Gives leaderboard!

7. On Tap for CASA Thank You Event

Watch the Event

In September, we held a special thank you event at New England Tap House Grille’s outdoor biergarten with a live-streamed performance by the Rebel Collective in lieu of the On Tap for CASA team competition fundraising event. We appreciate all of our On Tap participants who had already raised more than $20,000 by the time the event was canceled. We’re looking forward to hosting On Tap for CASA when it is safe to gather again!

8. CASA Cares for the Community

Watch the Event

On September 25, we hosted our first virtual annual fundraiser, CASA Cares for the Community, streaming live to an audience of more than 300 on Facebook and YouTube! Through sponsorships, the appeal and a live and silent auction, CASA Cares raised more than $200,000 for New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children!

9. CASA’s 31st Annual Celebration

Watch the Event

Also in September, we hosted our our 31st annual celebration recognizing all of our active advocates, many of whom reached important milestones! Six celebrated 20-years of advocacy, seven celebrated 15-years, 17 celebrated 10-years, and 32 celebrated 5-years! This year’s event was a true celebration of incredible resilience through a difficult year.

10. Manchester’s Judge Carbon Named National Judge of the Year


During its annual conference, the National CASA/GAL Association for Children announced Manchester Circuit Court Judge The Hon. Susan B. Carbon as the recipient of this year’s Hon. David W. Soukup Judge of the Year award. “There is no award that means more than this for a family court judge,” she said in her remarks. “This is a gift and an honor I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Watch her acceptance of the award here.

11. Celebrating our Board of Directors!


A special thank you to our Board of Directors. These 10 accomplishments would not have been possible without their dedicated leadership!

Thank you to our staff, advocates, donors, and board members for believing in our mission and helping us to reach our goal, no matter what life is sending our way. We all send our heartfelt support to those who have faced difficult struggles in 2020. Regardless of what next year brings, our mission is to continue providing advocacy for abused and neglected children with the help of our advocates and friends like you.

See you next year!

Wrapping Up The Year With 45 New Advocates

In the final quarter of 2020, 45 trainees graduated virtually and are ready to take on their first case.

Adoption Day for Grayson

For the Sillanpaa family,  Sept. 23, was no ordinary day. It was adoption day for 6-year-old Grayson who made a grand arrival to the court house … in a dump truck! It was the truck enthusiast’s one wish for that day.

His mom, Airial Doubleday Sillanpaa says Grayson was not the first child they adopted, rather, he was the fourth from three families. As a long-time foster family, Airial said it’s kind of surprising, but they’ve had a CASA on the case for each of their foster children, and she says working with CASAs over the years has shown her the good in people.

“I consider them everyday angels,” Airial says. “They are just regular people, but they step in and they are able to advocate and speak for a child who is too young, or maybe just not ready or able.”

Airial says Grayson’s CASA Charlotte was a wonderful person to have in his life. Grayson called her Miss Charlotte, and Airial she would come to their house to see him, to play and to talk about his life. And even though he was little, Charlotte made it a point to make him feel comfortable about talking about things that were hard for him to think about. For instance, he mentioned he missed some of his toys at his house, and at that age, that’s hard, she says.

“(Having a CASA) really just gives them a platform,” Airial says.

And it provides an extra layer of support from someone really there to be neutral and objective, making sure the child’s needs are a priority, she says.  In the case of one of her other children, Airial says the CASA was an invaluable support. She was a “squeaky wheel” who helped get Airial’s medically fragile child the support needed. “I don’t know that that would have happened without our CASA,” Airial says.
While COVID changed a lot of the ways in which people connected this year, Airial says Charlotte was great about checking in via email and on the phone and phoning into meetings.

One of her favorite moments, she says, was in the final months of Grayson’s case, they held a Zoom meeting with DCYF, CASA and Waypoint under the kitchen table because Grayson had made it into a fort. And in that moment, it wasn’t about her squeezing under a table while Grayson met with his team, it was about what worked for him at that time.

“Everybody just rolled with the punches.”

Because of COVID-19, adoption day also looked a little different. Where it previously would have been a large celebration with the Sillanpaa family, Grayson’s team of caseworkers, CASA and others, this adoption came just after courts re-opened on a limited basis and they could have just 10 people in the room. Her family made up 8, the judge was 9, Airial says. And number 10? Grayson invited Charlotte to join them for the special day.

What to watch this weekend in honor of National Adoption Month

Staff have three movie recommendations for you.

November is National Adoption month. A perfect time to shed light on the great need for permanent homes and adult mentors for older youth living in foster care or getting ready to age out. Older youth are an oft overlooked and misunderstood group. To give you some insight into teens struggling with disrupted familial relationships, here are some movie recommendations from our CASA staff. Have your tissue box handy.
Spare Parts (2015), starring Hollywood heavy hitters, delivers a powerful one-two punch in a riveting true-life story of four Latino teens from a disaffected working-class community in Arizona. Dealing with the complexities of poverty, undocumented status, and dwindling options for a prosperous future, the teens form a robotics team led by their disgruntled science teacher played by George Lopez. At the urging of a persistent school principal, humorously played by Jamie Lee Curtis, the teens end up winning a national robotics competition against the likes of M.I.T., Cornell and Virginia Tech. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the stark power of the difference an involved, caring adult mentor makes in an older youth’s life is palpable. We have it on good authority that this one brought a tear to the eye of a well-known local university football coach.
Two other movies our staff recommend and with similar themes about the plight of older youth include, Lean on Pete (2017), a British drama follows a 15-year-old boy who begins to work at a stable and befriends an ailing race horse. Leave No Trace (2018), based on a true story follows a military veteran father with PTSD as he attempts to raise his teen daughter while living in a forest. The young actors do great justice to well-portrayed characters struggling with parental substance misuse, their own neglect and complex trauma, and parental mental health issues. Both movies are based on novels.

Have the hankies close by. Tears are guaranteed.

NH’s Judge Susan Carbon Wins National CASA Judge of the Year Award

The Honorable Susan B. Carbon of the 9th Circuit Court Family Division in Manchester has been named the 2020 judge of the year by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem Association for Children. The announcement was made at the organization’s virtual Awards of Excellence ceremony on Oct. 21.

The National CASA/GAL Association’s Honorable David W. Soukup Judge of the Year Award honors the outstanding contributions of a judge who has advanced the best interests of children through support of the CASA/GAL model.

“Judge Carbon’s record of advancing children’s issues in New Hampshire is unwavering,” said Marcia Sink, president and CEO of CASA of New Hampshire. “She was one of the first jurists to welcome CASA volunteers into her courtroom nearly 25 years ago and has consistently availed her time to assist with new advocate training and recruitment projects.”

Judge Carbon, who was named New Hampshire’s Judge of the Year in 2019, has served on the bench since 1990. She readily gives her time to CASA volunteer training and frequently shares her insights on the value of CASA volunteers in her courtroom. Judge Carbon also has an impressive record of service to the profession. In 2010, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as Director of the Office of Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice. She has served on many domestic violence and child protection initiatives at the state and national level, and has trained judges and other professionals around the world. Judge Carbon is also a past president of both the New Hampshire Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

“The National CASA/GAL Association Judge of the Year Award is the greatest honor a juvenile court judge can receive,” Judge Carbon said of the award. “CASA volunteers have a profound impact on the lives of the children we serve. I am very fortunate to work with such a strong and committed organization in New Hampshire and all those who comprise CASA of New Hampshire.  To have earned their respect and that of my colleagues around the country is deeply moving.  I am so grateful for Marty Sink and all those who nominated and supported me for this award.”

The Honorable David W. Soukup Judge of the Year Award is named for the founder of the CASA/GAL model.

Congratulations, Judge Carbon!

CASA Cares for the Community Raises $200,000 for NH’s Children

CASA CEO Marty Sink and Board Co-Chair Amy Coveno close out the end of CASA Cares for the Community. Photo by Lauren Thomason/Events United

If you tuned in to Friday night’s virtual “gala” we hope you had as much fun as we did! We truly didn’t know how we would turn our annual in-person CASA Cares Evening of Giving into a one-hour event produced in a studio and broadcast live on social media. But we can say without a doubt that you all made it more successful than we could have thought possible!

Between raffles, the live and silent auctions, sponsorships and the appeal, CASA Cares raised more than $200,000 – well beyond our expectations! That is money that will be used to provide New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children with caring, dedicated advocacy.

“Thank you all. We are going to be able to do so much for so many children with this incredible outpouring of love and support tonight,” said CASA CEO and President Marty Sink at the end of the event. “… It truly does take a village to take care of all our kids.”

Thank you to everyone who dug deep and made CASA Cares such a success! From the winners of our fabulous auction items to the people who donated them, to everyone who gave in the appeal, our sponsors and program advertisers. We cannot do this work without your support.

Thank you to our guest speakers — Seth Meyers, Gov. Chris Sununu, Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and former NH Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick — who provided special messages to attendees throughout the evening. We are deeply grateful for your ongoing support of CASA.

Thank you to Sharon, who shared her story about the challenges she faced and the obstacles she overcame to reunify with her children and the importance her children’s CASA David had in not only the kids lives, but her own. And to foster parents Stephanie and Michael for opening their doors and hearts to so many children in need of a temporary (and permanent!) home over the years.

If you missed the live event, you can watch an encore on Facebook or YouTube.

Each year at CASA Cares guests go home with a beautiful keepsake program. While we couldn’t celebrate in person this year, our volunteers from GYKAntler put together and equally gorgeous digital version that we hope you’ll take a look through.

The book includes letters from CASA of NH CEO & President Marty Sink and Presenting Sponsor SLC Group Holdings President Sandra Cleary, as well as more information about the event, our sponsors and numerous generous advertisers who support the work of CASA year after year. We are so appreciative of all of the support from our advertisers and sponsors who helped make this year’s event a success.

41 New Advocates graduated this summer!

In July and August, we virtually trained 41 new advocates to provide critical support to abused and neglected children.

The CASA-NH training team was hard at work this summer training more advocates! 41 new volunteer advocates graduated from our virtual training that we established due to the complications of COVID-19. Our virtual training is a mix of “face-to-face” Zoom sessions that feature breakout groups with other trainees and individual assignments in Google classroom.

One of our long-time volunteers, who trained to become an advocate over 10 years ago, wanted to retake the training for her own sake of advocacy.

“I found the virtual training to be very effective and was actually quite surprised at how well it went,” she says, adding that it was just as effective and informative as the in-person training that she took a decade ago.

Like it does in the classroom, virtual training is interactive and collaborative. It requires large and small group participation. It welcomes guest speakers, facilitates a virtual role play where volunteers can practice the types of conversations they’ll have with the various parties to a case and includes drafting a sample court report.

One of the training team’s favorite activities to do during in-person training was to have participants write an uplifting and positive message to their future CASA children. Now in virtual training, they have each participant go around the classroom one-by-one to say their messages. Check out the messages from the July and August classes below.

Training available this winter

CASA is accepting applicants for future virtual training sessions beginning January 6 and February 16. Interested volunteers can submit their applications today, or, join an upcoming virtual information session to learn more about the role of the CASA volunteer advocate and get specific questions answered. Register for one here.

___

Please help us welcome Lance, Pamela, Darcy, Morgan, Deborah E., Joan, Deborah H., Annette, Clarena, Michele, Becky, Gina, Kelly, Tina, Katie, Will, Joni, Rebecca, Sarah, Uday, Kaitlin, Paula, Nicole, Kerri, Michelle, Ellen, Wendy, Allison, Susan, Linda, Monica, Pam, Scott, Margery, Cheryl, Diane, Joe, Paula, Matt, Amy, and Kathy to CASA!

 

25 Graduate in June From CASA’s New Virtual Training

From Pittsburg to Nashua, CASA’s new virtual training brings the classroom to your own home

Click to watch a virtual message from this class to children they will work with in the future.

The month of June saw a new milestone at CASA – the successful completion of its first two fully virtual training classes.

Two legal interns and 25 new volunteer advocates from 25 communities across New Hampshire and Vermont were the first to experience the new training that is a mix of “face-to-face” Zoom sessions with breakout groups and assignments in Google classroom.

“The opportunity to be trained virtually is safe and convenient, and I never felt I didn’t glean all the necessary training, discussion, role play, and coaching that is vital to preparing me for this role,” said training graduate Brittney Joyce. “The most surprising part of virtual training was how well our trainers fostered a sense of community among our group – simple asks like keeping our cameras on for the duration of training, putting participants into breakout discussions, and asking us icebreaker questions for the Zoom chat at the beginning of each session helped all participants feel more connected to each other.”

Click to watch a virtual message from this class to children they will work with in the future.

Like it does in the classroom, virtual training is interactive and collaborative and requires large and small group participation. It welcomes guest speakers, facilitates a virtual role play where volunteers can practice the types of conversations they’ll have with the various parties to a case and includes drafting a sample court report.

Going virtual for training has also established the capability to train volunteers from every corner of the state at the same time to be ready to take new cases wherever they come in.

From in-person to online

For 31 years, CASA’s classroom-style training has been its cornerstone for preparing volunteers to provide courtroom advocacy for abused and neglected children. But when the governor issued a stay-at-home order in March, CASA’s training team took quick action not only to convert the final hours of its classroom training in Dover to complete the class online, but to create this fully-immersive virtual pre-service training. This new approach  to safely providing training is critical for the coming months as the need for new volunteer advocates is significant ahead of an anticipated surge in new abuse and neglect cases.

“Within two weeks of the governor issuing his stay-at-home order, reports of abuse and neglected dropped by about 50 percent, not because it isn’t happening, but because it isn’t being seen by people like teachers and daycare providers who are the most common reporters,”  said CASA CEO and President Marty Sink. “We have started to see cases being reported more as the state begins to re-open, but we are expecting a surge of many more in the coming months and we need to have advocates trained and ready to take those cases.”

Training available this summer and fall

CASA is accepting applicants for future virtual training sessions beginning  Aug. 3, Sept. 16, Oct. 19 and Nov. 10. Interested volunteers can submit their applications today, or, join an upcoming virtual information session to learn more about the role CASA volunteer advocates play in the lives of New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children. Virtual info sessions happen every other Tuesday. Register for one here.

___

Please help us welcome Susan A., Alexandra, Jennifer, Steven, Barbara, Brittney, Robert, Pam, Lisa, Carolyn, Ellen, George, Cynthia, Ken, John A., Jean, Veronica, Martha, Paul, Jack, Susan G., Janine, Carol, Stephanie, Karen, John S. and Adam to CASA.