table of contents
4 Letter from the Executive Director
5 Celebrating 30 Years: Our Growth
6 Women's History Month
8 2019 Run for the Children
10 Welcoming our newest CASAs
11 Success Story
12 Volunteer Spotlight
14 Social Worker Appreciation Month
15 What We're Loving
16 April Events
18 Thank You to The Gancas Family
19 Inspiration for You!
Ready to do good? Become a CASA.
Click here to RSVP to our next Information Session on
April 13th at 11am
What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good.
Letter from the executive director
As woman who was born and raised in the Boston area, I will admit that I was a bit disappointed in the lack of snow this year: I love a good snowstorm. However, I am ready for warm weather and some sunshine. And, it looks like Spring has finally arrived, just in time for a jam packed April.
April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Fairfax CASA, the County and our community partners are planning multiple events that help raise awareness about the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote the social and emotional well-being of all children and families. Please consider taking part in one of the events listed on Pages 16 and 17, to be a part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Most important on our calendar in April is April 27th, the date of our 9th annual Run for the Children! I am keeping my fingers crossed that Mother Nature will be in a good mood for our superhero race.
This year's race promises be just as fun as our last 8! You can expect the same course, great food, music, masks and capes for our littlest runners, but you can add to this year's event photo ops and meet and greets with some pretty famous superheroes!
We are in need of volunteers to make this event another success. If you have few hours to give, we would be grateful. Please see pages 8 and 9 for ways you can sign up to be a part of this wonderful, family friendly event.
I hope to see all of you at the race! Enjoy the warm weather and all that spring brings.
Between day one and today, Fairfax CASA has grown in many ways. The infographic below is a snapshot of how our program has responded to the community's needs over the past 3 decades. Data compares FY1989 to FY2018 (our first year of service to our last completed year).
celebrating our 30th year
Reports Submitted to Court
1989 to 2019 : Our Growth
Stories of women who flourished from foster care.
Ballerina Victoria Rowell has had a storied career including performing with the American Ballet Company, the Ballet Hispanico of New York, and Twyla Tharpe Workshop. Her love of dance was cultivated by one of her foster mothers, with whom she found stability with after moving from placement to placement after being placed into foster care at 16 days old. Today, Victoria steers Roswell's Foster Children's Positive Plan, which sponsors foster youth in California to pursue the fine arts.
We're betting you didn't know that Carol Burnett's famous ear tug gesture was born from her early upbringing in a kinship care placement. Carol's parents struggled with alcohol addiction, creating a vitriolic home life for young Carol filled with constant turmoil. At 8 years old, her eccentric maternal grandmother became her primary caregiver and the infamous ear tug became a silent signal to her grandmother that "everything was ok."
Women's history month
Born in 1915 to a young, unmarried couple, Billie Holiday's early childhood was marked by extreme poverty. Just after her birth, her father abandoned her to pursue a jazz career of his own. With her mother constantly absent because she was working to make ends meet, Billie was primarily raised by a maternal aunt until she herself moved to Harlem at age 14. Billie would be 'discovered' just 4 years later by a producer, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Would you believe that a prominent 19 billion dollar company has foster care to thank for it's existence? Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel grew up with her sister in an orphanage after the death of their mother when Gabrielle was 12. It was at this orphanage that she learned to sew, leading to her life's work. Gabrielle went on to revolutionze the fashion industry and lead a life as one of the twentieth century's most prominent figures. Today, the Chanel brand is still one of the most recognizable fashion brands.
Get out and about on the city streets of Fairfax in support of a great cause. Sign up for our 3K fun run/walk.
Click here to register.
Feel good even after the endorphins wear off.
Run for an abused and neglected child.
Click here to register.
run for the children
Can't make it on race day but want to help? 100% of our race profits go directly to our advocacy work.
Click here to give.
Help us with our race day logistics. Course Marshals are most needed!
Click here to register.
CASA is thrilled to welcome 9 new CASA volunteers to our CASA family. After completing over 35 hours of in-depth and diverse training, and shadowing a current CASA during a court observation, these Court Appointed Special Advocates were sworn in on February 27th by The Honorable Chief Judge Todd Petit.
From left to right: Gary Adams, Laurie Kobick, Mary Beth Long, Marjorie Polk, Lisa Sinsheimer, Holly Taylor, Elise Tripp, and Barbra Wehrle.
Not pictured: Judy Misbin
welcome winter class 2019!
A Fairfax CASA was assigned to the case of a soon-to-be 17 year old young lady who was removed from her home due to severe physical abuse by her step-father. Other issues in the family included substance abuse. This young lady was placed in foster care and despite the Department's best efforts to work with the family to resolve the issues in the home, the stepfather was reluctant to participate and progress was slow. When told that her husband’s failure to cooperate with the Department would prevent reunification with her daughter, the mother stated that if forced to choose between her husband and her daughter, she would choose her husband.
The mother's decision devestated the young lady who was not only battling depression but also dealing with bullying at school due to a speech impediment. With dental care that helped her speech, the advocacy of her CASA to place her in a more appropriate school setting and the support of her foster family, she persevered.
With the relentless encouragement of her CASA, this young lady opted to enter into the Fostering Futures program upon turning 18, and requested that her CASA remain on her case to continue to support her. As the young lady was a year behind in her academics (and had not passed two required exams) and slated to graduate a year later than planned, the CASA spent time working with her on her school work (particularly algebra) and encouraged her to find a part time job, and to consider her employment goals. Upon graduation from high school, she expressed joy and reported that she was the first in her family to earn a high school diploma. The only two people present at her graduation as her guests were her CASA volunteer and her social worker.
Her CASA continued to be a supportive advocate for until they celebrated her 21st birthday, at which time her role shifted to that of supportive friend. While her role as an advocate was at times frustrating, the CASA states that she feels a great deal of satisfaction knowing that she was there for the young lady, supporting her during both good and not so good times. Along with fun outings, such as having mani’s and pedi’s together and choosing a prom gown, there were also the disappointments of placements being disrupted, getting through a heart wrenching breakup, completing school applications, dealing with job rejections, and fighting bouts of serious depression. The story continues to be that of a beneficial and special relationship between the former CASA and the young lady who recently graduated from a Certified Nursing Program and is employed in a job she loves. The two communicate by phone or text and get together for lunch or dinner at least monthly and, according to the CASA, the young lady is in a “good place;” she is happy, employed in a job she loves, and is exploring options to further her education in the nursing field.
as told by one of our case supervisors
Interview by Ashleigh Conrad
Ashleigh: How did you initially find your way to CASA?
Connie: Before learning about the CASA program, I thought that CASAs and GALs were the same thing. When I retired in 2014, I investigated becoming a GAL only to discover that in Virginia, GALs must be a practicing attorney. I was guided by a person at the Fairfax County Courthouse to the Fairfax CASA office, where I was given a some information about the program and invited to attend the next information session. After learning a little more at the information session, I decided the CASA program sounded like such a wonderful and worthwhile program that I wanted to be part of it.
In this issue, we're learning about CASA Connie Dineen, who has served the program for the past 5 years. Connie has worked 4 cases, serving 7 children in that time, and has served many more by being one of CASA's 'on call' advocates to attend hearings for cases that are not yet assigned. Here's more from our chat with Connie!
A: What has been a memorable moment in your CASA work thus far?
C: One of the cases to which I was assigned involved an infant who spent the very early months of his life in foster care. The foster family with whom the infant lived had four children of their own, so the foster child received lots of very positive attention from everyone in the family and so he naturally developed an attachment to the foster family. The foster family was very conscience of keeping the biological family "in the loop" with matters concerning the infant, but it became normal to see the infant reach for the foster mother and want to go to her even when the biological mother was holding him. The attachment to the foster family grew stronger the longer the infant was in foster care. But the "memorable moment" to me was the reaction of the biological family to the separation from their infant son and the respect each family had for the other. The biological family not only appeared to understand, but verbally stated, that they knew they foster family was providing the infant with something they could not at that time, and that they were so grateful to the foster family for loving their son and providing such outstanding care for him. As time went on and the infant (now becoming a toddler) spent more and more time with his biological family and eventually was returned to them, the attachment to the foster family slowly decreased while the attachment to the biological family slowly increased. I am convinced that this change occurred because of the respect the two families had for one another and the diligent work each family undertook to reach and appropriate resolution -- always keeping at the forefront of their thinking what was in the best interest of the child. So my "memorable moment" was not one single event, but it was an event that will forever be "memorable" in my mind.
CASA Volunteer, Connie Dineen
A: You're a 'frequent flyer' in the CASA office thanks to your dedication in attending hearings for cases that don't yet have a CASA assigned. How does your role as a CASA differ in those hearings?
C: I think the major difference in attending a hearing related to my own case vs. attending one for which I am just covering is the rapport that has/has not established. This is likely the first time the families find themselves in this situation so they are often nervous, sometimes defensive, and frequently unsure of what is going on and who is there and for what reason. As a "covering CASA," it is necessary in these cases to be a bit of a detective to determine who the family members are, who the county representatives are, etc. When I introduce myself to the family at these hearings, I try to impress upon them the reason I am there, calmly share information about the CASA program with them, and be completely non-judgmental in my interactions with them. I want to do what I can to ensure the family's confidence will be high regarding the CASA who is eventually assigned to the case and begins to work the family. I think that having a CASA presence at the early stages of the case is important because it lets everyone involved know that we (the CASA volunteers) will be looking out for the best interests of the children. I believe it makes a visible statement about the level of care, concern, and commitment that is maintained for the children in these situations.
Fairfax CASA is celebrating Social Worker Appreciation Month!
Social Workers have played a crucial role for more than century in improving our society and empowering others, so that they may live to their fullest potential. Take, for example, Social Worker of the Year Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez, who founded an organization to mobilize farm workers and low-wage immigrant communities in Indiana, California, Pennsylvania and Arizona to identify and prevent child sex abuse.
Social workers such as social reformer Jane Addams, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders Dorothy Height and Whitney Young helped Americans secure voting rights, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other programs. In our cases, the social worker is a vital team member, partnering with the CASA to ensure that while the case is open before the court, all of the child's needs are identified and met. For the social worker, this includes, but is certainly not limited to: arranging visits with the children and parents, connecting with service providers, and checking in frequently to ensure that the current placement is the most appropriate for that child.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work continues to be one of the fastest growing career fields in the nation, with more than 100,000 people expected to enter the field in just seven years. Social workers are employed across many areas of both the public and private sectors. For example, they are in schools helping students overcome life challenges; in clinics, hospitals and mental health centers helping people recover and rebuild their lives; and in federal, state and local government pushing for legislation and regulations to improve quality of life. Some may be surprised to learn that social workers account for the largest group of mental health service providers in the United States and that the Veterans Administration is the largest employer of social workers who hold a master’s degree. Unfortunately, despite the invaluable work that social workers do, their salaries tend to lag in comparison to those in other helping professions such as high school teachers, nurses and police.
You can learn more about the field of social work and how you can support the dedicated individuals who dedicate their lives to the service of others by clicking here!
social worker appreciation month
what we're loving
From Supervisor Priscilla Jahanian, here's a little dose of happy for everyone. Check out The Kindness Diaries on Netflix to follow philanthropist Leon Logothetis as he journeys around the world in his beat up VW Beetle. Relying on the kindness and hospitality of strangers he meets along the way, Leon shows us compassion is everywhere. Click here for more about this binge worthy pick me up!
Cyndy Etler will tell you she was a 'wannabe in a Levi's jacket' as a teen in the full swing of the 'Just Say No' campagin of the mid-80s. But to her mother, she was just another drugged out teen in need of a serious life adjustment. That's where Straight Inc. came in. The Dead Inside is Cyndy's harrowing account of her time in a cult-like drug rehab program is a recommendation straight from our Executive Director, Darcy Cunningham. Check out her book here!
You were born with the ability to change someone's life. Don't ever waste that talent.
rod and karen gancas
Special thanks from all of us at Fairfax CASA to
who are once again committed as presenting Champion Sponsors of the 9th Annual Fairfax Run for the Children.
We cannot express how much your support means to us. We are lucky to have confidence in our program from contributors such as yourselves.