ChildWise Board member, Schylar Canfield participates in annual CASA awards

Annual CASA Awards Presented at CAN Conference

CASA of Montana recently recognized the people who work for abused and neglected children in district courts around the state. At the annual Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference in Helena, Supreme Court Justice Jim Rice presented awards to the CASA Judge, Director, Volunteer Advocate of the Year, and Child Protection Services Worker for 2012.

Judge Stewart Stadler of the 11th Judicial District was named as the CASA Judge of the Year for service on behalf of children, volunteers and the Flathead CASA programs. Judges appoint CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interest of the child, often as a Guardian ad Litem. Nominated by CASA volunteer and past board president Joyce Funda, Judge Stadler started the Accountability Court in the Flathead. He had a vision of creating an option within the traditional adversarial system for families in crisis. No money has been allocated for this court and it continues to operate as an integral part of the dependent/neglect case process with no additional funding. Families are often reunified sooner or parents come to realize that relinquishment is best for the child. Ms. Funda notes that Judge Stadler has been directly responsible for changing the institutional culture to reflect the critical importance of the welfare of the children.

CASA of Missoula Executive Director LaNette Diaz with CASA of Montana Board President Schylar Canfield and Executive Director Ellen Bush

Justice Rice honored Executive Director LaNette Diaz of the Missoula CASA Program in as the CASA Director of the Year. LaNette has served three years as executive director of CASA of Missoula. Volunteer numbers have increased from 27 to 70 active volunteers. She hired an outside consultant to complete an organizational assessment of how to improve CASA. She also began a fundraiser called Mad Mudder that raised about $13,000 last year. LaNette’s team-building skills, her extraordinary intellect, and her “can do” attitude were noted by her employees and colleagues. Judge John Larson wrote, “Lanette has demonstrated a commitment to consistent, fair, and focused decisions to help our local CASA program. Her positive attitude and collegial manner of approaching difficult issues is one that I wish could be easily replicated.”

Volunteer of the Year Gloria Trevizo of Yellowstone CASA with CASA of Montana Board President Schylar Canfield and Executive Director Ellen Bush

The next CASA award was given to Volunteer of the Year Gloria Trevizo of Yellowstone CASA. Gloria has advocated for 15 children in the last 3½ years in Yellowstone county. She goes above and beyond and approaches everything in her life with the same dedication and determination. Program coordinator Melissa La Roque writes that Gloria has helped train her in the CASA system. She was a great mentor to some of the new class members and a model volunteer. She made sure that the children in her case were safe and in the same foster home, plus she helped to get services for the foster children. She encouraged their involvement in extracurricular activities and never gave up on the mother in the case. She met with the teen and encouraged her to the right things. Gloria’s award was also featured in the Billings Gazette.

Child Protection Specialist of the Year Jacqui Poe with CASA of Montana Board President Schylar Canfield and Executive Director Ellen Bush

Finally, we have a new award this year. Child Protection Specialist of the Year Jacqui Poe was nominated by CASA director Ann Schilling of 6th Judicial District CASA in Livingston. Ann said of Jacqui, “She is the most dedicated, organized, compassionate, and straightforward CPS worker. You always know exactly where she stands on an issue while at the same time she is very willing to explore different ideas on how to be best serve a child’s needs.” Jacqui has worked for eight years in Livingston with many CASA volunteers that are all impressed by how she handles her cases.

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