Malinda Shamburger- The One Stop Shop

Whenever I walk into Wal-Mart I am overwhelmed by how big it is. However, I can honestly say that I love the convenience of having a department store and grocery store in one place. It is clear that I am not the only person that feels that way, because there is not a day that Wal-Mart’s parking lots are overflowing. On Wednesday February 27, Twin Cedars had the opportunity to participate in the non-profit version of a one stop shop. Family Connection, an organization that is part of a Georgia statewide initiative of 159 community collaborative partnerships, is an organization committed to making measurable improvements for children and families in Georgia. Family Connection organized a resource fair at the health department that targeted the employees of The Department of Family and Children Services, and their clients.

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Twin Cedars was one of fifteen agencies represented at the Resource Fair. It was a productive day for those represented because they were able to meet face to face with their client, DFACS, and provide an overview of the services available. Several of the DFACS employes stated that there are times they are not aware of all of the services available to them and their clients. DFACS employees felt that they received a useful resource by being made aware of what is out there. DFACS employees were not the only ones educated that day. Each of the represented non-profits were able to meet with one another and network as well. Family Connections did a great job with creating the Non-Profit Resource One Stop Shop!

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Malinda Shamburger- A Day At The Capitol

CASA day at the capitol is a very important day for Twin Cedars. On this day, CASA coordinators from around the state rally in Atlanta to meet with state representatives and senators from their perspective counties. Having the opportunity to meet face to face with state legislators allows coordinators to add a voice to legislation that they are attempting to get introduced or passed. Currently, CASA has legislation that has been introduced in the House. House Bill 242 is about Juvenile Justice Reform. Today, there are no consistent policies from county to county in regard to the Juvenile Code. This bill is a step in the right direction to make these necessary changes. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein in a Feb 7 judiciary address said, “We as Georgians – and as a nation – stand at a crossroads in juvenile justice history.  We have learned, just as we did with adult criminal justice, that cracking down on juvenile crime is not enough. We must also be smart about juvenile crime and take action to reduce it.”

Here is a link to learn more about House Bill 242 http://georgiavoices.org/latest-news/voices-applauds-next-step-in-juvenile-justice-reform. There are other ways that we can help. If you are not registered to vote, make sure that you do so. It is important to have representatives that do just that, represent us, so your vote counts. If you are already a registered voter find out who your state legislators are, and let them know how important this bill is, and ask them to support it. Protecting children and families should be a priority of every citizen.

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Pictured L-R, Rosalind Alston- CASA Program Coordinator, Rep. Calvin Smyre, Heather Irvin CASA Coordinator

Malinda Shamburger- Statistics Are Everything

Statistics like the one listed in the picture can at times seem far removed from the reality that is the life of most college students. Between tests, homework, and writing papers, the only statistics college students want to hear are the ones that pertain to the number of classes until graduation.Unfortunately, there are people who live the above statistics on a daily basis, and they are not far from the place the Communications department calls home. Everyday at Children’s Tree House a statistic walks in the door. Allow me for one moment to make this statistic real. You, and three girlfriends are having dinner. According to the research, one of you has experienced some sort of sexual abuse in their life.

I had the opportunity to attend a stakeholders meeting at the police department facilitated by Children’s Tree House. In this meeting were members of the police department, Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS), Child Protective Services, and the Family Center Counseling Services. In this meeting, the open child abuse cases are discussed. Each group has a part in how the case plays out. The police bring the information about the arrest of the perpetrator, or the report of a suspected abuse. DFACS discusses the placement of the child, the inspection of the home, and/or the interview of the parents. Child Protective Services will provide similar information. Children’s Tree House will discuss the interview with the child. Children come to the office with either their custodial parent, or the foster parents, and here is where they tell their story. The interviewers are trained to specifically guide the children through the interview. They do not make suggestions nor prod for answers. They allow the children to tell the story in their own way, and in their own time. The interview is recorded and the above mentioned stake holders are able to view the interview. This is an improvement from the way it was done before. In the past the child would have to tell their story over and over again to everyone with a stake in the case. Imagine what that could be like for a child that is already traumatized to have to relive that 4 or more times. The work done at Children’s Tree house is much needed and they are an asset to our community! I am glad to be working with such an organization!

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Malinda Shamburger – Wonder Women

The featured picture is part of the Columbus Staff at Twin Cedars. This picture was taken to help promote their upcoming Charity Race on April 13, 2013. The theme is “Be a Child’s Hero… SUPERHERO Day on Broadway.” As mentioned in my previous blog, CASA is one of the programs underway at Twin Cedars. The acronym CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Once a child is removed from their home, and placed in foster care, CASA representatives are the voice for those children in their upcoming court cases. In their attempt for justice, lawyers, judges, and state workers, are busy preparing their cases and their objective is to see that the perpetrators are convicted. In the midst of all that is going on, sometimes the victims, the children, are forgotten. However, this is never intentional. Often the victims are infants, or children under five, and they are not aware that they are victims, so they are unable to be a viable witness. That is where CASA steps in. CASA volunteers help the children in the following ways:

  • Gathering information about the child’s situation
  • Attending court proceedings
  • Making a recommendation to the judge to help the court make a sound decision about needed services for the child and child’s future

Federal law states that in cases of child abuse or neglect a guardian *or CASA is appointed on behalf of the child/children.

Becoming a CASA volunteer is not as difficult as one would think considering the service they provide. The qualifications are:

  • Must be 21 years old
  • Pass criminal background checks
  • Good verbal & written communication skills
  • Ability to be objective and non-judgmental
  • Available to attend all court hearings
  • Commitment to CASA program for at least 1 year or until case is resolved

CASA is a wonderful way to give back to the community!

Below is the information about the race.

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Malinda Shamburger – Saving the World One Child at a Time

This week has been a very busy week. On Tuesday, I started my internship at Twin Cedars. For those who may not be aware of what exactly Twin Cedars is, allow me to tell you.

Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services is home to several programs in Columbus that provide advocacy for children. The following is a list of the programs: Anne Elizabeth Shepherd Home, Reality House, Weracoba Second Chance Home, Chattahoochee CASA, Children’s Tree House, Dorothy Wells Knight Community Counseling Center,Specialized Foster Care, and Truancy Intervention Project. Whew, that is a mouth full.

This little place does all of this and more. Twin Cedars is part of a group of agencies in the state of Georgia and West Alabama, so there are other programs offered at other sites. I spent this week getting oriented with the staff, and the day-to-day activities. This place is non-stop! There is always something going on. Twin Cedars is now in the planning stages of a 5K and 1K walk/run. There is a lot that goes on in the planning of this type of event. Twin Cedars is a non-profit, so they depend on fundraising for the bulk of their budget. I look forward to sharing with you the happening in the weeks to come! Stay tuned!

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