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

cherish family  

  "Children will not remember you for the material things you provided,

but for the feeling that you cherished them"


- Richard L. Evans -

In This Issue
How to Talk About Abuse
Teaching Children to Trust Their Instincts
Good Job Junkies
Single-Load Liquid Laundry Packets
Scheduled Classes
Family Expo 2013
Help for the Holidays


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
GCSAC 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
David Justin
 Alma School Board

Dan Buschle 
Alma Products
 Jennifer Leppien
Governor's Task Force/Child Abuse & Neglect 
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.


Lung Clinic

Lung cancer is the leading cause of deaths from cancer for both men and women.  Tobacco use causes 87 percent of all deaths from lung cancer.  Mid-Michigan Cancer Center is offering smoking cessation education.

If you are interested in learning more about the Lung Clinic a free telephone screening is available by calling
(press 2). 


Quick Links

Join Our Mailing List



Tis' the season to be jolly...


December is a time of family and friends along with stress.  Be sure to read the Holiday Survival Guide article. 


December is also a time of giving of our time, talent, and treasures.  Child Advocacy is always open to gifts that will help enhance our programs and mission.  Please keep us in mind this holiday season.


Happy Holidays from the

Child Advocacy Staff


Check out our website www.linkforfamilies.org.




Holiday Survival Guide

By Lisa Cannon - GCSAC Coordinator



This is the time of year where most of us look forward to, but it can also be a hectic and sometimes stressful time.  Cold weather, school closings, spending more money, traveling to be with our families, and not having enough time to get everything done are some of the biggest challenges during the holidays. 

Below are some ideas and suggestions for preventing the holidays from being overwhelming and for bringing back some of the peace and joy of this special time of year. 

Be organized as much as possible:  when you have a lot to do, having a plan and a list makes getting the tasks done easier and faster. 


Be realistic:  If everything is not perfect.... It's okay - if you expect to have a "storybook" holiday, you are setting yourself up for failure. 


*  Your kids will be excited nearly every waking moment during the holidays - recognize their excitement ("you sure are excited") and accept it. 


Plan special time for holiday traditions for your family - give your kids something they will remember and continue with their families. 


Ask for help when you need it, before you become stressed - often, all that is needed to get help is being willing to ask.  


Let others help when they ask if they can - most people feel good when they have a chance to help others.  

Remember that kids will remember most the feelings they had during the holidays, not the gifts they receive - affection, attention, support, being a good example, and love are the greatest gifts you can give your kids 365 days a year.

 How to Talk About Abuse

By Heather Gardner

CAC Coordinator 

 CAC logo

If a child ever discloses abuse to you, listen, be loving, and supportive.  Incidents reported by children are rarely false.  There is no set way of how to talk with a child about abuse.  It depends heavily on the child's age, the possible perpetrator, and how long ago the potential abuse may have occurred.  There are some guidelines you should follow.  First, have the conversation in private.  Be aware of your body language and any negative messages this could be sending to the child. 


Immediately reassure the child that you believe them and that they did the right thing in telling you.  If you need to ask questions, ask open ended questions.  For example, "What did you do together?" "What happened next?" Avoid detailed questions that are suggestive. 

Unfortunately, some parents deny the abuse and blame the child.  Hysterical responses such as "I will kill him" are also harmful to the child.  This can cause a child to shut down or change their story out of fear.  Instead, let your child know that it is not their fault and you are not upset with them. 

"Sexually abused children who receive support and help can and do heal" according to David Finkelhor, Ph.D. director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center.  Research has shown that the majority of sexually abused kids grow up with no significant mental health or behavioral problems, he adds.  Factors that help the child include social support, strong self-esteem, and a child's understanding that they were not to blame for the abuse.  Mental health professionals can help the child to overcome the trauma.  This is another reason why it is crucial for children to come forward when they have been abused. 

(Article information obtained from "Protect Your Child from a Predator" by: Jessica Snyder Sachs from Parents Magazine)

Please remember that if a child discloses abuse to you that you should immediately contact Michigan's Department of Human Services Abuse Hotline at 855-444-3911.

Stay tuned for next month's newsletter article.  We will look at how to talk with different children's age groups on abuse.

Teaching Children to Trust Their Instincts 
by Richelle Davis
Prevention Educator
We've all had that feeling before...that little voice inside telling us when something isn't quite right.  Children will get that same feeling when asked to oblige to the unwanted sexual advances from a pedophile.  By teaching children to recognize that feeling and follow their instinct, we can protect them from sexual abuse.
That Little Voice Inside
Teach children that their instinct is that little voice, that feeling inside them telling them if something is right or wrong.  Our instinct tells us to stay away from things with big teeth and sharp claws, so that we don't get eaten.  It might also make us feel queasy in high places so that we're careful and don't fall.  Our instinct tries to keep us out of trouble.  Sometimes it's right, sometimes it isn't.  But we should always follow what that little voice inside tells us to do, at least until we've had the chance to check it over with other adults.
Getting in Touch With Your Instinct
Ask your children to recall times when they've gotten a funny feeling inside.  Maybe it was a time when they lied about something and they knew they should tell the truth.  Maybe it was a time when they snuck a cookie and knew they weren't supposed to.
Instinct in Everyday Life
Talk about instincts in everyday life.  Ask your children directly: "What does your instinct tell you?" whenever the opportunity arises.  The simple act of talking about it amongst yourselves will raise an awareness in your kids that will help them recognize and follow their gut feelings.
What If...
Make up your own pretend scenarios for your kids, and tell them in the form of a story.  Have kids tell you what their instinct tells them to do, based on what feelings they get when they think about the scenario.
Teach your child to listen to their instincts.  Let them know their instincts are their bodies own personal safety whistle.  If their instincts are going off, they need to slow down, be careful, and proceed with caution.  Learning to trust and follow their instincts can help keep them safe from unsafe behaviors and situations.
Recommended book to read to children on this topic -
The Little Person Inside Me.

Good Job Junkies!

By Ronda Sorensen

Parent Educator


It is funny how much I learn when I am teaching a parenting class to other people.  We were talking about praise the other day and the importance of praising children in our daily interaction with our kids and its impact on feelings of self-worth.


Of course, praise has to be meaningful, specific to behavior, and reflect on how that behavior impacted others.  Sounds complicated but it is really quite easy.  Suddenly, my mind wandered back to this summer when the grandchildren were visiting for a few weeks.  I recalled very clearly finding myself saying "good job" approximately 50 times an hour, or so it seemed, to the point that the kids were off and running before I had finished the words.  Not helpful praise!  Then my mind wandered even farther back to a day when my son was about four years old.  He was a very busy little guy and I fear he heard many negatives throughout the course of a day.  One day we had returned from a visit with his grandparents and I told him that I was proud of him for being such a good boy that day.  He stood in front of me, smiling so big, and so happy and asked me, "What did I do?"  I see his happy little face in my mind now, recognizing how very much he needed to know specifically what he had done, what was that great behavior that had earned my pride. Helpful positive feedback would have reinforced the expectations for his behavior and highlighted his ability to meet those expectations and let him know how much that was appreciated. 


Children who feel good about themselves, have learned that they can be successful in pleasing their parents because they know clearly what those expectations are and receive positive praise that reflects on their specific behavior and even further hear how that behavior affected others.  When these steps are taken, children can not only feel good about pleasing their parents they can feel good within themselves about their own behavior.  I don't know if you make New Year's Resolutions, but this year, I resolve to quit saying "good job" and to really make a difference in the lives of the children I am with by using "real praise."

Single-Load Liquid Laundry Packets:
Harmful to Children 
Submitted by Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator


Do NOT Let Children Handle; Keep Locked Up

 & Out of a Child's Sight & Reach


Children who are exposed to the chemicals in single-load liquid laundry packets are at risk of serious injury. Some of the chemicals in these laundry packets are toxic. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising parents and caregivers to lock up these laundry packets and keep them away from children.


Liquid laundry packets are attractive to children as play items because they are soft and colorful and they resemble familiar items like candy, toys and teething products. In 2012 alone, CPSC staff has learned of about 500 incidents involving children and adults who were injured by the product. Children have required hospitalization from ingesting the product due to loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing (requiring incubation). Eye contact with detergent from ruptured packets has also resulted in medical treatment for severe irritation and temporary vision loss due to ocular burns.


Because these packets dissolve quickly and release highly concentrated toxic chemicals when contacted with water, wet hands, or saliva, consumers are strongly urged to always handle laundry packets carefully and with dry hands. 

Scheduled Classes


Daycare Provider Trainings


Rating & Improvement System - Self Assessment Survey

Wednesday, December 5

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

Wilcox Non-Profit Center

Licensed Providers Only 

Refer to www.greatstartconnect.org to register.


Quality Connections - Ways to Provide Parent Education 

Tuesday, December 11

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

Wilcox Non-Profit Center

Refer to www.greatstartconnect.org to register.


Great Start to Quality Orientation



Monday, December 3

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

Gratiot-Isabella RESD - Shepherd

No Cost


Other Trainings/Groups


Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group

Tuesday, December 4

6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Youth for Christ - Alma

No Cost  


CPR/First Aid Training

Saturday, December 8

CPR training - 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Fee $20

First Aid Trianing - 9:30 a.m. - Noon Fee $25

Wilcox Non-Profit Center, 525 N. State St., Alma

Refer to www.greatstartconnect.org to register.


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


Clown Expo
Family Expo 2013
Saturday, January 26
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Central Michigan Youth for Christ
2550 W. Cheesman Road - Alma
FREE Family Fun for all ages!
This is a valuable one-stop event with informational resources and fun for ALL families of Gratiot County.  There will be more then 60 businesses and organizations in Gratiot County on display.  Fun activities are planned for the kids including games, interactive activities, clowns, face painting, and more.
If you are interested in participating in the Family Expo as a vendor, please call Child Advocacy at (989) 463-1422.
Help for the Holidays

By Lisa Cannon - Prevention Educator

The holidays can be an especially hard time if you have lost someone to suicide.  Here are some tips that may help:

 Get your fears about the holidays out of your system.  Write them down. Know what they are.

Decide if you want to continue with family traditions, alter them, or start over with new traditions.

Talk about your feelings, cry, and laugh. Do not try to hide your honest emotions.

Remember your responsibility to yourself. Take care of yourself!

Try to keep holiday planning and celebrations simple.  Do not ask too much of yourself.

Talk about the deceased if you want to.  Look for positive memories.

These tips are brought to you by the Gratiot County Substance Abuse and Suicide Coalition.  If you would like more information on this topic, please call Lisa Cannon at 989-462-0142 or email at lisa@linkforfamilies.org.

Wow, it's hard to believe that 2012 is coming to a close.  What a great year we have had here at Child Advocacy.  I wish there was room to list all of the accomplishments of our staff this year, they are truly amazing.
As I am reflecting back on the past year I feel truly blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful group of staff, board members, committee, and coalition members.  It is this amazing group of people who makes all of our programs, events, and fundraisers such a huge success.  I am proud to be able to report that every program we offer is FREE to the community, and this is because of the community support, grants, donations, and sponsors that we have. We continue to grow and make a difference in the lives of children and their families and we have you all to thank for that, so THANK YOU for another great year at Child Advocacy!
Audra Stahl
Executive Director