CA with tag line 

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



"Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.  

If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff, 

when they are little they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big because to them all of it has always been big stuff."


- Catherine M. Wallace -   

In This Issue
Sexual Development and Behaviors in Children
Protect Yourself Program
10 Ways to Keep Youth Smoke-Free
STARS Rating Update
Summer and Electronic Media
Scheduled Classes
5K Event Results
Summer Office Hours

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


Virginia Luedtke
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.
Dan Buschle
 Alma Products 
 Wendy Currie
Mid Michigan Dist. Health Dept. 
Colleen Davis
Prosecuting Attorney's Office 
Toni Davis
Women's Aid Service
Rob DuHadway
DuHadway Dance Dimensions
David Justin
 Alma School Board
 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).

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Happy Summer!


This month we share with you the 5K Results, summary of our Protect Yourself Program, tips for reducing teen smoking, and for daycare providers, information on the STAR Rating system.


As we say good-bye to Lisa Cannon, we would like to welcome Virginia Luedtke, the GCSAC Prevention Coordinator, to the Child Advocacy staff.



Child Advocacy Staff


Check out our website

Sexual Development and Behavior in Children 

Submitted By: Heather Gardner

CAC Coordinator




Have you ever wondered what normal sexual curiosity is in childhood? You are not alone.  Most parents have witnessed their child engaged in some sort of sexual play or exploration. Being caught off-guard by young children's self-exploration and curiosity about body parts and sexual issues is one of the uncomfortable realities of parenting, and can raise a host of troubling questions, such as, "is my child normal?" "Should I be worried?" "What should I say?"  Although talking with children about bodily changes and sexual matters may feel awkward, providing children with accurate, age-appropriate information is one of the most important things parents can do to make sure children grow up safe, healthy, and secure in their bodies.

If you encounter a situation the first step is to remain clam.  Staying calm will allow you to make clear decisions about what you say and/or do, rather than acting on strong emotions. To remain composed, try taking a long, deep breath, counting to ten, or even closing the door and stepping away for a minute before saying anything.  It is important to maintain a calm and even tone of voice and to ask open ended questions as much as possible, so the children can tell what they are doing in their own words, rather than just answering yes or no.


If you witness your child engaged in some sort of sexual play with other children it is important to take into account these factors; are all of the children involved about the same age, have they been playmates for some time, and do the children seem to be enjoying their game?  If the answer is yes to all of these questions, it is likely the children were just curious and playing around and that no one was upset about what happened.  If you encounter a situation where the children are a little embarrassed but otherwise not distressed, this can present an ideal opportunity for teaching the children about healthy boundaries and rules about sexual behavior. 

As always, if you are concerned that a child has been abused or neglected contact the Michigan Department of Human Services at 1-855-444-3911.


Article segments obtained from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network


Protect Yourself Program a Huge Success

 By Richelle Davis, Prevention Educator


With the end of the school year, comes the end of the Protect Yourself Program.  We had a wonderfully successful year, with the Protect Yourself Program being taught to 826 children in 2012-2013.  Each year the program has continued to grow and more and more children are being taught how to keep themselves safe in all kinds of dangerous situations.  I had the privilege of visiting classrooms throughout the county and empowering children on how to keep themselves safe with strangers, as well as how to protect their own bodies from physical and sexual abuse. 


This year the program was taught to 22 first grade classrooms and 20 third grade classrooms in Alma, Ashley, Breckenridge, Ithaca, and St. Louis.  Our goal is to continue to grow the program next year and to one day be teaching the program to all of the schools in Gratiot County.


We also had the opportunity to participate in SPLASH Days at Ithaca South Elementary and Hillcrest Elementary in Alma.  SPLASH Day is the schools day to focus on health and safety for their students.  Several of the Child Advocacy staff spent the day teaching students an abbreviated version of our Protect Yourself Program.  It was an awesome opportunity to review what we had already taught the students in the program.  Teaching our children how to stay safe is a topic that needs to be discussed on a regular basis at school, as well as by parents at home.


Thank you to our schools for allowing us to bring this awesome program to your students and thank you to the parents who continue to discuss these topics with your children on how to protect themselves.


Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition

Submitted by Lisa Cannon


According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 10 Ways to Keep Youth Smoke-Free:

1. Set a good example: Youth tend to follow the important adults in their lives. If you don't smoke, your child is less likely to smoke. If you do smoke, seek help to quit - now. The sooner you stop smoking, the better your child's chances are of remaining smoke-free.

2. Understand the attraction: For youth, smoking may be about rebellion or wanting to fit in with a particular crowd. Others get started because they think smoking will make them appear cooler, older or more independent.

3. Say NO to youth smoking: Tell your child that smoking isn't allowed. Parental disapproval is more powerful than most people realize.

4. Appeal to your child's vanity: Play up the fact that smoking is gross, not glamorous. Smoking causes bad breath and wrinkles, yellow teeth and stinky hair and clothes, not to mention a chronic smokers cough and decreased energy for sports, band and other activities.

5. Do the math: Smoking is not cheap. Sit down with your child to calculate the cost of smoking a pack a day, then compare it to what he/she could buy in place of the money spent on cigarettes (like shoes, clothes or electronics).

6. Expect peer pressure: Help your son or daughter practice refusal skills in times when they need more than a simple, "No thanks, I don't smoke."

7. Take tobacco addiction seriously: Most youth tend to think they will never become addicted to tobacco, and can easily just smoke once in a while. Share with your child that most adult smokers became hooked as teens, and that quitting can be a lifelong struggle.

8. Predict the future: Youth tend to think bad things only happen to other people. Use real-life examples to show how smoking has harmed your family's loved-ones, friends and/or neighbors.

9. Think beyond cigarettes: Smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes, candy-flavored cigarettes and water pipes are sometimes thought to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Be sure your child is clear that all of these carry negative health risks.

10. Get involved: Take an active stance to support community and school-sponsored efforts to reduce and prevent youth smoking.

And remember, adults who think smoking is no big deal will have children who think the same. Make tobacco the topic of your next conversation. Be clear and firm in stating your expectations for your child not to smoke. Then talk through and discuss some of the items listed above. Know this is not a one-time talk, but an ongoing conversation.

To share health facts on smoking with your child, visit this great resource:

Sources: American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. BeTobaccoFree.Gov., U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Washington DC, 2013. Mayo Clinic: 10 ways to keep teens smoke-free.

Great Start to Quality
Submitted by Pam Mahin
RRC Coordinator

Great Start to Quality Version 2.0 Launches June 10!


Changes are coming to Great Start to Quality and the online Stars Platform starting June 10, thanks to feedback from child care and preschool programs and providers across the state, and state and local partners. The Office of Great Start and the Investment Corporation also consulted with national experts to develop Great Start to Quality version 2.0.


The changes include adjustments to the Staff Qualification and Professional Development standards. Specific details related to these changes were outlined in March in a series of webinars. Information from these webinars can be found on the Great Start to Quality website under the Core Advisory Team tab:  

  • Programs will have 60 days - from June 10 to Aug. 9 - to update the Self-Assessment Survey (SAS) in the area of Staff Qualifications and Professional Development.
    All other SAS data will automatically transfer to the new system, although it can be edited as needed.
  • Go to and update the program profile. (Important - Head Start, Great Start Readiness Programs [GSRP] and NAEYC accredited programs MUST note these program types in their profile on the Update Data tab in the Good to Know section.)
  • Programs that fail to submit an updated SAS between June 10 and Aug. 9, even if the program is currently posted on will post as an empty star, which indicates only that the program is a licensed program. 

Do you know of a program or provider  not currently participating in Great Start to Quality? We encourage you to invite them to start "Shooting for the Stars" beginning June 10 by first updating their program profile in and then completing the Self-Assessment Survey (SAS) in the Stars Platform.


For more information and help getting started, programs can contact their local Great Start to Quality Resource Center at 877-614-7328.

Summer and Electronic Media

By Ronda Sorensen

 Parent Educator


The window at my office looks out at the Castle Park and I love to look out during the summer and watch the children play.  I was thinking of that today and thought of a recent training that I attended that spoke of the number of hours that the average child spends a day in front of electronic media and it was astounding. Even 2-,3-, and 4-year old children frequently spend several hours a day in front of televisions and video equipment.


There are two issues of concern related to children and electronic media.  One is how much time they spend but the second is the content of what they see and play with.  Two major consequences that result to children if they spend too much time with electronic media are: physical and health consequences, and behavioral consequences.  Children are not active and their bodies are not using the energy that they have.  They do not experience the physical activity that their bodies need and do not use their muscles and burn the calories that they have stored.  We know if muscles are not used, they are lost.  We have an increasing number of overweight children at risk for diabetes and heart problems.   It is also problematic that they are not interacting and communicating directly with other people and thus not learning many of the basic social interaction skills.  They are not learning to develop their imaginations and creativity or learning how to resolve conflicts that is such a vital part of free play with other children. 


Children are also frequently exposed to violence on electronic games and videos.  Often with young children they do not have a well-developed sense of the difference between what is fantasy and what is real and often are very frightened by what they see.  Of significant concern, however, is what message the violent behavior is giving them about how it is appropriate to treat others and handle conflict.  Frequent access to violent video games has been proven to increase aggressive behaviors in real life. 


Lets work hard this summer to get our kids outside and using their imaginations and their energy.  I am heading up to Alaska next week to spend about seven weeks with my grandchildren.  Armed with this information and a new sense of real concern about what is happening to children as a result of the overexposure to electronic media, I am planning to limit significantly any time spent  with video games and movies and monitor what the kids are watching and playing.  I think that this is a start that we all can make.  Have a great summer with your kids!  

Scheduled Classes


Daycare Provider Trainings  

(Parents are welcome to attend)


Online courses available at


Great Start to Quality Orientation 


Friday, June 21

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

Gratiot-Isabella RESD - Shepherd

No Cost


Other Trainings/Groups


Free Webchats for Parents and Caregivers

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is pleased to partner with MetroParent Magazine to once again host a series of free webchats for parents and caregivers. To view the webchat topics, please click here


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

Child Advocacy 5K Event Results


Our 6th Annual fundraiser was a success! Thank you to everyone who participated/volunteered at our 5K Event.  Congratulations to the following individuals for earning a trophy or metal:


Overall Male One Mile Fun Run - Luca Lebron (8:27)

Overall Female One Mile Fun Run - Ava Frost (7:52)


Overall Male 5K Walker - Todd Cashen (37:58)

Overall Female 5K Walker - Jaeme Berman (38:22)


5K Walk Male Age Group Winners

40 to 49 - Matt Wood (39:29)

50+ - Larry Sroufe (1:08:46)


5K Walk Female Age Group Winners

20 to 29 - Bethany Fletcher (43:38)

30 to 39 - Melisa Smith (45:09)

40 to 49 - Hope Delorenzo (40:24)

50+ - Nancy Throop (38:24)


Overall Male 5K Runner - Aaron Stebelton (18:36)

Overall Female 5K Runner - Valerie Helinski (21:44)


5K Run Male Age Group Winners

14 and under - Case Martin (24:32)

15 to 19 - James O'Boyle (19:13)

20 to 29 - Justin Charping (23:20)

30 to 39 - Michael Simon (18:53)

40 to 49 - John Lewis (19:57)

50+ - Craig Zeese (24:41)


5K Run Female Age Group Winners

14 and under - Morgan Johnson (21:51)

15 to 19 - Jessica Sutherland (25:42)

20 to 29 - Rachel Charping (22:24)

30 to 39 - Allison Lebron (23:04)

40 to 49 - Roxanne Morey (23:53)

50+ - Chris Sipka (29:20)


To view the complete results, click here.


Please mark your calendar for next years' race - Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Summer Office Hours

Starting the week of June 3


Monday - Thursday

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Closed Friday


For once I am at a loss for words as I sit here and try to articulate an appropriate goodbye for Lisa Cannon, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator.  Lisa joined the staff at Child Advocacy in August of 2011 and since that time has become a dear member of our family.  She accomplished amazing things in Gratiot County, worked with hundreds of children, and touched countless lives.  It would be almost impossible to list all of the things Lisa has accomplished in the past couple of years, but she leaves a legacy behind with the two permanent prescription drop boxes she worked so hard to secure, the Above the Influence program in our local high schools, increased knowledge and awareness regarding substance abuse issues including; prescription drug abuse, the dangers of synthetic drugs, the effects of tobacco use, and much, much more.  Lisa has passed the torch to Virginia Luedtke and we look forward to Virginia making her own mark on this community.
With that being said, the Staff and Board of Directors at Child Advocacy would like to wish Lisa and the Cannon family Best Wishes!
We will miss you Lisa!
Audra Stahl
Executive Director