525 N. State Street  Suite 4 Alma, MI 48801 
(989) 463-1422

dad talking to child




"The way we talk to our children

becomes their inner voice."


Peggy O'Mara 


In This Issue
Learn some Red Flags
Dangerous Situations
Constructive Conversations
Self Assessment Surveys
Scheduled Classes
Look Who's doing Big Things
Toys for Tots Party


About Us 


 Child Advocacy is a non-profit agency with a mission to improve the welfare of children and their families through education, training, and support for the prevention of substance abuse and child abuse and neglect.

 Our Staff
Audra Stahl 
Executive Director

Ronda Sorensen
 Parent Educator  


Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator


Lisa Cannon
GSAC Coordinator
 Richelle Davis 
Prevention Educator 

Heather Gardner
 CAC Coordinator
Brenda Shafley
Office Assistant 

Board of Directors 

Kent Schulze
Dept. of Human Services

Vice President 
Wes Wickes 
Youth for Christ

Michael Hetzman
Community Mental
Health - Gratiot Co.

 Kim Vetter
MI State Police
Mt. Pleasant Post

Lori Apple
Comm. Mental Health - Isabella Co.

Kristin Bakker
Prosecuting Attorney's Office
 Wendy Currie
Mid Michigan Dist. Health Dept.
Toni Davis
Women's Aid Service
Rob DuHadway
DuHadway Dance Dimensions
Madonna Adkins 
 EightCAP Inc.
 Mary Hunt
Retired-EightCAP inc.

David Justin
 Alma School Board

Dan Buschle 
Alma Products
 Jennifer Leppien
CASA Volunteer 
Kelly Piotrowski
DHS - Gratiot Co.
Jennifer Stambaugh
DeafBlind Central CMU
 Carolyn Studley
Retired Alma Public Schools


Seat Safety


Did you know that at Child Advocacy we can install and provide a safety inspection for your child safety seat?  Child Advocacy has a nationally certified safety seat technician available!
To make an appointment call
 or 800-552-4489

Permanent Prescription Drop Off



Alma Police Dept.

525 E. Superior St.

Mon. - Fri. 

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Gratiot Co. Sheriff

226 E. Center


open 24 hrs./day

7 days/week


Both sites accept

prescription pills, liquids, and patches.


Quick Links

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November is a time to reflect on all the positives and be thankful!


This months' newsletter has a wealth of information on protecting children and focusing on the positives when talking with children.  


We are very thankful for all the support we receive from our partners, the community, and from the local businesses.


Happy Thanksgiving,

Child Advocacy Staff


Check out our website www.linkforfamilies.org.

Resource Parents

by Ronda Sorensen

 Parent Educator 


The first time I heard the term "Resource Parents", I thought it was strange. I learned that the term referred to parents who were providing a home for children who were not their biological children. Again, I thought why do we need one more created name. After all, I was facilitating a Foster/Adoptive/Relative and Fictive Kin Support Group and that name was working just fine. Well, maybe it was a bit cumbersome but the group was great and the support and training terrific. I have had some time to think since then and I have realized that the term "resource" is perfect and not just because it is shorter either. Families take children into their home for a variety of reasons. I could begin listing some of those reasons but would not come up with all of them.


The most important thing is that the basis for all of those reasons begins with love. Families who foster or adopt or provide care to a relative child or even a non-related child who has developed a relationship with them truly are a resource. They are a resource certainly to the children in their homes and a resource to the community. Here at Child Advocacy we have an enormous regard and respect for all families but particularly those families who take a child into their homes and provide a loving family environment, usually in circumstances where there has been great emotional stress to the child. We offer a monthly support group for "resource" parents, providing quality training using experienced professional trainers and offer support to each other as parents deal with difficult behaviors, family disruptions, and heartaches often experienced as a result of loving and losing a child in the foster care system.


If you or someone you know fits the description of resource parent, I would like to invite you to join our support group. We meet at 6:00 on the second Tuesday of each month at the YFC building located on Cheesman Rd in Alma. For more information, please call Ronda Sorensen at Child Advocacy, 463-1422 so that I can personally tell you how much I appreciate your service to children and what a resource you are in our world. 


"Molesters do not wear an ugly mask.

 They wear a shield of trust." 

 Patty Rase Hopson, adult survivor and

 co-founder of LavendarPower.org


Learn to recognize the 

"Reds Flags" of child sexual abuse

By Heather Gardner

CAC Coordinator 

 CAC logo

Only one in five children who have been sexually abused will tell someone. It is extremely hard for a child to disclose abuse, even under the most supportive circumstances. For this reason it is important for us to be aware of the potential warning signs of sexual abuse. If your child begins to tell you that they do not want to be around a certain person or be involved in certain activities, listen to them. They may be trying to tell you more.


Some children may show physical signs of sexual abuse such as; unexplained urinary tract infections, redness or swelling in the genital area. Some children report stomachaches, headaches, or sudden bedwetting. Behavioral signs may include angry outbursts, sleep difficulties, withdrawal, or a drop in grades. If a child begins to make sexual comments or display inappropriate sexual behaviors, this can also be an indicator. Please keep in mind that these are merely indicators for abuse and may warrant a consultation with a mental health professional or pediatrician trained in child abuse.


If you suspect that your child or any child has been abused, do not attempt to investigate this on your own. In depth questioning of the child may jeopardize a potential investigation. Immediately report your suspicion to the Department of Human Services abuse hotline: 1-855-444-3911.


*Article information obtained from Parents Magazine: Protect Your Child from a Predator  By: Jessica Snyder Sachs

Dangerous Situations
by Richelle Davis
Prevention Educator
The best way to protect our children from dangerous situations is to teach them what to do if they ever get into one. Just as we teach our children bicycle safety or fire safety, we need to teach our children about stranger safety.
Begin by talking to your child about danger. What is something that is dangerous? It is something that is harmful or hurtful to us. Give your child different situations and ask them what they would do if they were in that situation. For example, they are playing at the park when a lady approaches them and asks for their help. The lady begins to cry and tell them that her dog, Lucky, ran away and she can't find him anywhere. Would they please come and help her find her dog? Ask your child what they would do. I was in nine first grade classrooms this month and was shocked to find out that 85%-90% of the children told me they WOULD help her find her dog. Discuss with your child the fact that this lady is a stranger. A stranger is anyone you have not met before. Explain that strangers can be old or young. It doesn't matter if they look good, smell good, and talk very kindly to you! If you don't know them, they are a stranger.
Since we don't know strangers, we don't trust strangers!! Make it very clear to your child to never, ever go with a stranger, no matter what they tell you. Try other situations, such as a stranger offering money or candy to come with them, or asking them to come and help get something out of the car. Talk through these situations and see how your child would respond. Educating our children on what to do will help them protect themselves from strangers and dangerous situations. 
GCSACConstructive Conversations:
Helping your child live
above the influence of drugs and alcohol

 Submitted by Rachel Giza,

Alma College Intern



Talking to your student about drugs and alcohol can be intimidating for many parents, but it's important to start the conversation now! Studies show the earlier young adults are exposed to drugs and alcohol, the more likely they will become habitual, potentially abusive users as adults. The following are helpful tips on ways to strengthen the dialogue between yourself and your teen when confronting issues of drugs and alcohol. 

  • Refrain from casting judgments or using accusatory language during conversations with your child; it's important to frame these conversations within a context of mutual trust and respect. When you have reason to suspect your child has been involved with drugs or alcohol, rely upon the facts of the situation and present them in a calm manner. 
  • Be clear about your intentions. Creating a safe environment for speaking about drugs and alcohol is crucial to creating an open and honest conversation. State precisely what you do and don't intend to address in a conversation.  
  • Teens are more receptive when they feel they have a sense of control over a situation; be flexible about the terms of these conversations about drugs and alcohol and respect their preferences about time and location. 
  • Remember to praise your teen for the positive choices they make in their life as well. Developing a relationship in which your teen feels as though you notice and appreciate him or her for their good behavior will make them feel safer when problems arise. 
  • Agree upon rules and boundaries with your teen to ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of what behavior is expected; this will make it easier for you to hold your teen consistently accountable. 
  • Evaluate your conversations. Ask, "Who did most of the talking? Was there constructive dialogue, or was the conversation too emotionally charged?" The goal is to create a face-to-face dialogue in which both parent and teen participate in a productive manner yet also allows room for disagreement. 

For more information on ways to communicate with your teen about drugs, alcohol, and other negative influences, visit www.theantidrug.com

Great Start - Self Assessment Surveys
By Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator

We would like to congratulate the following child care programs for completing their Self-Assessment Surveys (SAS) on Great Start Connect and making it through the validation and PQA (Program Quality Assessment) process: Lindsay Skinner, KidsLand Daycare, and Childhood Learning Center in Gratiot County and Mt. Pleasant Great Starts Program in Isabella County. Three of these program achieved a 5 Star rating!

In addition to these 4 programs, The Middle of the Mitten Learning Center has made it through the validation process and is working on their Quality Improvement Plan to get ready for the PQA. We also have 9 programs in Gratiot County and 8 in Isabella that have submitted their Self-Assessment survey and are waiting on a validation visit. Thirty seven other programs within Gratiot and Isabella Counties have opened and started or at least looked at the SAS.

If you are having trouble deciding how you might meet some of the criteria on the survey, please give us a call and we can help you through it. Please remember the information from the SAS will be made public in December so even if you are only at a 1 Star rating, people will be able to see the scores for the different areas of the SAS, not just the star rating.

Scheduled Classes


Daycare Provider Trainings -


Monday, November 26

Positive Guidance & Discipine: How Do You Do It

*Tier 2 Approved*

6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Alma Public Library

Cost $20

Refer to www.greatstartconnect.org to register.


Great Start to Quality Orientation - Aids/Relatives


Tuesday, November 6

8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Wilcox Non-Profit Center

525 N. State St., Room 119


No Cost


Parenting Classes


Starting Monday, November 5

0-6 years Nurturing Parenting Class

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Wilcox Non-Profit Center

525 N. State St.

Class will meet for six session - Monday and Wednesday for three weeks.


Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group

Tuesday, November 13

6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Youth for Christ - Alma

No Cost  


Please call our office at (989) 463-1422 to register or to get more information.


Suicide Webinars

Last month, the suicide coalition hosted a free webinar on Suicidal Ideation in Youth. If you missed the opportunity to attend the webinar, the series is now available at www.wellawaresp.org click on Well Aware webinars and you can view any of the three available. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Lisa Cannon at 989-462-0142 or lisa@linkforfamilies.org.

Look Who's doing Big Things
Kim Vetter, Michigan State Police, received the 6th District Trooper of the Year award!  Kim works out of the Mt. Pleasant post and is a very dedicated Child Advocacy board member, CAN committee member, and is part of the CAC team.  Kim is instrumental in getting car seats for our car seat program.  She also has an active role in Girls' on the Run.  Congratulations Kim!
Bridget Vermeesch, Adult Services Worker at DHS, received the 2012 Spirit Award from the National Adult Protective Services Association.  Bridget will accept her award in Phoenix.  Bridget is a great representative of Child Advocacy.  She currently is the secretary for the Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition, a member of the CAN committee, a volunteer, and often a contract teacher for our programs.  Bridget is a great asset to this organization and we are proud of her accomplishments!
Child Advocacy is collecting TOYS - 
in Memory of Owen SommerfeldToys for Tots
Son of Steve and Wendy


Owen is our Toys for Tots Hero!


Owen became an Angel in April 2011 and to honor his memory Child Advocacy, St. Mary's School, and Cyclesations are collecting toys the month of November to be distributed by Gratiot Co. Toys for Tots.  Please consider donating a small unwrapped toy at one of these locations.  Thank you! 

Happy Fall,
I would like to let you in on a little secret, Brenda Shafley is the brains behind this newsletter every month.  Brenda writes, edits, and gathers information for this wonderful newsletter.  Her name is not out there for all to see, but know that every time you read this newsletter it's Brenda who works so hard to put it all together.  We think she does an amazing job!  Thank you Brenda!
Audra Stahl
Executive Director