Tulsa CASA COVID-19 Response

In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, children and families are struggling to make it through each day, one day at a time. Many of our families, already engaged with the child welfare system prior to COVID-19, will have an even more difficult time than the average family.

Fortunately, CASA volunteers can still be strong supporters and advocates for the children they are appointed to and their families, while still observing social distancing and self-quarantining protocols.

As of March 18, Tulsa CASA, Inc. has suspended all in-person visitations, though virtual visits are encouraged to provide consistency and support to CASA children during this time of uncertainty.

The Tulsa CASA Inc. office and building are closed until further notice. Staff is working remotely from their homes. All forms of communication will be over phone or email until the office is reopened.

We have cancelled all in-service trainings for current advocates through April 30, 2020 and all pre-service training for new volunteers has been moved to a completely online/virtual meeting format.

While advocates are unable to visit with children and families in person, Skype or FaceTime, email, texting or calling are great ways to stay in touch. Volunteers are encouraged to make weekly check-in calls to caregivers and children, and inquire about things such as . . .

  • Health of all household members — physical and mental
  • How are school/distance learning assignments being completed? What was sent by the district/teacher? Is the teacher available via email or help, if needed? How can the CASA assist virtually?
  • What is the family doing to keep busy daily?
  • Is anyone in the household still working outside of the home?
  • Has the child/children had any issues behaviorally since being home from school?
  • If the child’s visitation has been suspended due to COVID-19, have they been able to stay in touch with their parents/sibling(s) by phone?
  • Is the household having any other challenges? (Financial, shortage of food, childcare for healthcare workers/first responders, etc.)
  • Are there upcoming non-urgent medical/dental appointments for the child/children? If so, has DHS been consulted to determine whether these appointments can be postponed?
  • Does the caretaker have supportive individuals they are relying on right now to stay sane and healthy?
Volunteers are also encouraged to make contact with anyone else involved with the child’s care during this time to determine what their status is currently in relation to the child (if services are being suspended, being offered remotely, etc.). This includes contact with the natural parents, even if the child is not currently in their care.

Crisis in health, mental health, domestic violence and child welfare may arise during this stressful time. Some important information and contacts to have on hand:

Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline
Be alert and keep an eye out for signs of abuse and neglect, even more than usual, because abuse and neglect have been shown to increase during times of crisis/natural disasters. If you suspect child abuse and/or neglect, call the OK Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511 as soon as possible and alert your Advocate Manager.
Domestic Violence Hotline
Being quarantined at home is not always safe. Domestic Violence Intervention Hotline can be reached at 918-7HELP-ME (918-743-2763) 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The DVIS hotline can provide help to anyone experiencing domestic violence or if you want to help someone who is.
2-1-1 Hotline
2-1-1 Oklahoma will enable everyone to get help or provide help. 2-1-1 Oklahoma offers information and referral across the spectrum of human need, including but not limited to rental assistance, food pantries, affordable housing, health resources, child care, after-school programs, caregiver support, financial programs, literacy, and job programs.
And if you have any questions about COVID-19 here are some reliable sources to get updates from:
The World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Volunteer Spotlight – Tracy Roberson

Meet Tracy!

Tracy Roberson knew for years that she wanted to be involved with CASA. After her youngest daughter went off to college and some of her other volunteer commitments were finished, she had time to freely devote to CASA and completed training in June 2019.

Tracy grew up in Tulsa but lived in Norman for 11 years until returning to the 918 in 1991. Since returning, she has been involved with various different organizations in a volunteer capacity. Tracy has also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Bixby Educational Endowment Foundation, Bixby Outreach Center, and Call Rape.

Tracy has a cat named Holly and 3 daughters; Perri is 26 and lives in LA, Peyton is 23 and lives in OKC, and her youngest daughter Quinn is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma.

Tracy was a stay-at-home mom while her children were growing up, but prior to that she was the Director of Student Services at the University Center at Tulsa (now OSU-Tulsa) and was Assistant Director of Student Development and Sorority Advisor at the University of Oklahoma. It’s safe to say that being a Sooner runs in their family!

When Tracy has free time outside of volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her children and friends, playing tennis, and traveling.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

The relationships with the kids, of course. It’s definitely gratifying to get big smiles and hugs from the kids, feeling like they’re happy to see me.

My current CASA kiddo is in an intensive inpatient treatment facility and has inconsistent face-to-face visitors. I try to provide weekly visits where she can take a break from life for a bit and just be a kid, while also reinforcing positive behavior for her. CASA offers love, security and safety to Tulsa’s children in foster care.

My favorite moment on a case was when I would visit my CASA child at school, during recess and lunch. One day when the children were lining up for lunch, a boy in her class that she had mentioned was mean to her jumped in front of her in the lunch line. I asked if he meant to jump in front of her, and he quickly moved back behind her where he was supposed to be. Well, my little girl told him I was her attorney…I’m pretty sure none of the second graders (including her) knew what an attorney or a CASA were, but she certainly said it with a lot of authority!

I also love working with my advocate manager, Chloe. She goes above and beyond to give support and encouragement. She makes me feel as if my questions and my case were the only things she had to worry about!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Tracy has only been an advocate since July, but she has already been an integral part of two cases. From the very beginning it was obvious that she was going to be a dedicated advocate.

She is kind, dependable and always shows up to meetings, visits, hearings or wherever she is needed. She is constantly surprising me with the amount of thought, effort and care she puts into her cases. When she serves her kiddos, she is absolutely all-in and goes the extra mile to make them feel special and wanted.

Once her first case closed, she jumped right back in and asked to serve another child! AND she drives an hour and a half almost every week to visit her CASA kiddo! She knows being present and showing up is the best way to advocate for them.

It is an absolute pleasure to work with Tracy as a team, and she keeps me informed about every step. I am so thankful she has volunteered her time to serve these children in our community! – Chloe Baldwin

Volunteer Spotlight – Dayna Applegate

Meet Dayna!

Dayna Applegate has been a CASA volunteer since September 2018. She describes herself as a major book junkie and she also enjoys doing yoga and playing outside with her children in her spare time. She and her husband, Levi, have three children ranging in age from 4-8 years old.

Dayna is a registered nurse and also volunteers at “Parents Night Out” quarterly for foster and adoptive parents. Dayna says that she has always had a heart for children caught up in the foster care system and wanted to find a way to get involved.

She didn’t know a lot about CASA, but she has a friend who volunteers in another state. So she called her friend to ask some questions, attended a Lunch and Learn at Tulsa CASA, and signed up for training. She says “I was hooked!” We are so glad she decided to take the next step and pursue certification as a Court Appointed Special Advocate!

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I enjoy the chance to be one more person in a child’s life that lets them know they are important and they are worthy of love. CASA offers support and stability to one of our most vulnerable populations when their world is being flipped upside down.

My favorite moment on a case was when I visited the family for the first time after the children had been reunited with their mother. I loved seeing the joy on all of their faces to be back together again!

If you are looking to volunteer in the community, there is something out there for every passion and every personality. Talk to people you know, ask around on Facebook, and most people will be able to point you towards an opportunity.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

What can I say about Dayna that hasn’t already been said? She is such a phenomenal advocate who does the absolute best on her case. Dayna has been a CASA less than two years and she had no hesitation in taking her second case when her first case ended.

I enjoy being Dayna’s advocate manager because she’s always in contact with me, making sure her CASA kiddos have everything they need. Dayna shows up for every hearing, even if it lasts for hours! She has a fun and vibrant personality, and I can only imagine she uses that when she visits her CASA children.

Dayna is one of those rare advocates we find who gives this work her all, and goes above and beyond to make a difference in the life of a child. – Kristen Dake

Thank You, CASA Casino Sponsors!

Many, many thanks to all of our CASA Casino Sponsors this year!

Presenting Sponsor

George Kaiser Family Foundation

High Roller Sponsor

H.A and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trust

Royal Flush Sponsor

QuikTrip
The E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation
Smolen & Roytman

Full House Sponsor

The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation
ONEOK
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Bearwood Concepts
Hogan Taylor
Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial
Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Steve and Debbie Smith-Berlin
TruHealth
Xcaliber International
Tulsa Wealth Advisors
Keith and Linda Van Dyke
Unit Corporation
Williams
The Arthur Family

Volunteer Spotlight – Jayne Ash

Meet Jayne!

Jayne Ash has been a CASA volunteer since 2017. As previous foster parents, she and her husband Carlton witnessed first hand the problem that CPS had with work load and limited staff. They had a foster child who’s CASA was instrumental in getting her to permanency, which showed Jayne how important a CASA can be in the life of a child.

Jayne is a realtor with Chinowth and Cohen REALTORS and is a former classroom teacher and instructional coach. She and Carlton have two grown children, Jeremy and Lauren, and a Westie Poo named Laynie.

When she is not showing houses or visiting her CASA kiddos, she enjoys walking Laynie, spending time with family, traveling and reading. She has been on multiple mission trips to Mexico and Central America, and volunteers at schools and church.

She is also an aunt to 14 nieces and nephews that have been adopted into her husband’s family through foster care.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

The children, of course! It is such a joy to watch them grow and learn. It’s the best feeling in the world when they see me and run to give me a hug.

One of my favorite moments was the adoption of my first baby girl. Another was when I finally gained the trust of a natural parent. I loved seeing her tear down her walls and begin opening up to work her plan. Her hard work and success has been inspiring and very rewarding.

CASA is the one stable force in the lives of children and the one who is consistently there through a very traumatic time in their life. A CASA can see the entire picture of the situation and truly make a difference. There are so many people in need . . . the littlest thing can make the greatest difference.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jayne does a tremendous job advocating for the children on her case. She has gone the extra mile to make sure they are safe and getting the services they need.

Jayne has maintained an open line of communication with the parents, and they rely on her for advice and moral support.

As they moved into trial reunification, she has been an invaluable source of help to the family, ensuring they have transportation, suitable daycare, and medical care. Jayne is an incredibly selfless and dedicated CASA volunteer! — Jalynn Youngberg

 

Breakfast with Santa 2019

Fun was had by all at our annual Breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning! THANK YOU to everyone who donated toys for our CASA kiddos, the Crowe & Dunlevy Tulsa office for providing the food baskets to our families, and to all of the families and advocates who attended!🎅🎁🎄

2019 Annual Board Meeting 

We had a wonderful time last night at our Annual Board Meeting. Thank you Justin Thompson Catering for hosting us at 624 each year and serving hors d’oeuvres and a delicious meal to our board members and staff! #TulsaCASA

Volunteer Spotlight – Jeri Breedlove

Meet Jeri!

Jeri Breedlove completed Tulsa CASA’s pre-service training in November 2018, and is celebrating her 1 year CASA-versary this month!

Jeri has previously worked at Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health and as a Children’s Case Manager at Tulsa Women and Children’s center. As a Children’s Case Manager she would sometimes work with CASA, but didn’t know a lot about the program.

After being a stay-at-home mom for 14 years, she really started to miss working with children. She saw a CASA commercial and felt a calling to look into it more. After attending a Lunch and Learn, she signed up that day!

Jeri has been advocating for children aged 0-3 on our Safe Babies Court Team docket since December 2018. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Jeri has lived in Tulsa for over 15 years. She has been married to her husband for 17 years and together they have a 14 year-old son and an 11 year-old daughter.

Aside from being a Court Appointed Special Advocate, Jeri is often volunteering at her children’s school and teaching Children’s Sunday School at church.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

CASA offers Tulsa families a second chance with better outcomes. Some cases are harder than others, but when you can be the voice for a child who doesn’t get to have a say in what’s best for them, and to make a positive impact in their life, it’s all worth it.

The day the family I work with finally entered trial reunification was my favorite moment on the case. Baby girl was in foster care for 11 months, and now she gets to celebrate her first birthday at home with her parents!

I enjoy being a consistent person in the family’s life. I see them once a week—on their good days and on the days they are struggling. I’m able to give them encouraging words and also tell them I’m proud of them for the hard work they have done.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jeri is a valued advocate and member of our Safe Babies Court Team. Since taking on her first case, she has hit the ground running and made a significant impact for her kiddo and the family.

Jeri consistently attends court hearings and staffings, is well-respected by the team, and has formed a fantastic relationship with the family she serves.

Jeri is one of the most dedicated and consistent advocates I have had the pleasure of working with. I am so honored to have her as part of my team and cannot wait to see the impact she has on future kids and cases! — Kaitlin Brasher

Happy Boss’s Day, Liz!

Happy Boss’s Day to our very own “World’s Best Boss” Elizabeth Fisher! A fun fact about our office: we love ‘The Office’. Here’s 3 fun facts about our Executive Director!
1. Liz has two birthdays
2. She’s the youngest of 5 siblings
3. Her whole family drives Jeep Wranglers