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

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"Children have more need of models than of critics."

- Carolyn Coats - 



In This Issue
Confronting Kids and Substance Abuse
Back-to-School Stress
Are You One With Courage?
Back to School Thoughts
Staying Safe Online
Scheduled Classes
Save the Date

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
Court Appointed Special Advocates 
Mike Morris
Detective, Gratiot Co. Sheriff's Dept.  
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

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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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September is here and with it brings a new school year!


For Child Advocacy, it means the start of new parenting classes and programs.  Each school year, we focus on new ways to educate parents and children to stay safe and live happy, healthy lives.  


Education is the foundation to our future.



Child Advocacy Staff


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Confronting Kids and Substance Abuse:  

Communication is the Best Back-to-School Supply
Submitted by Virginia Luedtke



According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 66 percent of high school students and 33 percent of middle school students report that drugs are used or sold - or both - at their public school. Compared to those who attend private schools, public school kids are five times likelier to use marijuana, three times likelier to drink, and nearly five times likelier to have a friend or classmate who uses drugs like acid, ecstasy, coke or heroin.


It's bad enough that our kids are bombarded by unhealthy and unrealistic media portrayal of drug and alcohol use, from shows like Weeds and Gossip Girl to celebrity headlines on the news. Add to that the information they receive or overhear from their friends, enemies, teachers, neighbors, siblings, teammates, the guy at the pizza parlor...the list goes on. Unless a child is home-schooled in the wilderness, their daily life is a barrage of conflicting opinions about substance abuse and addiction.


So how can kids get a straight answer? It's as simple as having a conversation. Often, adolescents don't see the gray area between black and white: they take what they are given, and believe what they are told. Parents need to acknowledge the flimsiness of the media and process it along with their kids, teaching them to question and examine - and to take everything with a grain of salt.


Parents should sit down with their children and provide them with accurate information, while also asking questions and developing a family-specific substance abuse policy. It's important to "parent for prevention" by outlining appropriate behaviors and consequences, providing "easy outs" (excuses they can use when offered alcohol or drugs), and remaining aware of activities and whereabouts.


My advice for parents: making assumptions won't get you anywhere. On the one hand, don't assume that your child will inevitably become involved with drugs or alcohol. On the other hand, don't assume that they are immune to the problem. This balancing act is especially important if you or your partner has a history of substance abuse; statistically, the children of past or present drug users are at a high risk of developing a problem. Of course, you and your child should be aware of this - however, risk and heredity are not equivalent to destiny. Even though parents may have struggled with substance abuse, their children should not feel doomed to follow the same path.


If your son or daughter does experiment, or even develop a recurring drug/alcohol problem, it is vital to keep the parent-child lines of communication open. Discuss, ask questions, and listen. If this is a first incident, find out the circumstances surrounding your child's drug use, outline the consequences, and develop "easy outs" for the future. If substance abuse is an ongoing issue, get your child help - look into treatment programs, counseling, group therapy, etc. The better educated you are about substance abuse treatment and recovery, the better equipped you will be to respond to your child's needs.


 It's important to remember that, when it comes to kids and substance abuse, there is no one-size-fits-all method of prevention. What works for one child may not work for another, and parents need to encourage discussions and develop guidelines that are tailor-made for the individual needs and personalities of their children. What's the closest thing to one-size-fits-all? Family communication. Keep talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol, keep asking them about their worries and priorities, and most importantly, keep listening to what they have to say.  


To see more, click here.



Children and 

Back-to-School Stress

By Carelton Kendrick 

Submitted by Pam Mahin

                              RRC Coordinator


Sick, scared . . . school
"I'm having that bad dream again." "My belly hurts every day when I wake up." It's that "school's going to start soon" angst . . . again. Like clockwork, happy summer campers turn into malady-ridden students. School fears and anxieties can cause kids to "break out" in nightmares, body aches, sibling aggression and more.


Parents' laments
She clings to me all day like a sweater. He won't eat anything I serve him. She's talking baby-talk like her little sister. He's gone back to wetting his pants. Every conversation turns into an argument. Unwelcome behavior. Uneasy times for all.


Oh, the horror!

Don't dismiss all these behavior changes and aches with a cursory, "Oh, you're just worried about school." Remember when you were seized by fears of new schools, mean teachers, and bus bullies? These are real fears. Stephen King real. Such intense fears demand understanding responses.


Name the pain
Be patient. Name the pain, talk about it, try to ease it. "I think your wake-up belly aches are telling you you're nervous about starting first grade. I was nervous too when I started first grade. I remember worrying . . . ." "You probably can't fall asleep because you're afraid you'll have those bad dreams again. Sometimes being scared about going back to school brings us bad dreams. If you tell me what you're scared or nervous about, I bet I can help you turn your dreams into happy ones."


Checking in
Once in school, your child's mind and body 'aches' may worsen, lighten, or disappear altogether. New anxieties may now dominate ("No one will sit with me at lunch!"). During these first weeks, stay updated by asking daily, open-ended questions ("How's the bus ride these days? What's recess like?"). Anchor your child by reminding her what's going well ("You're making new friends everyday"). Ride this roller coaster together.




Are You One With Courage?

By: Teresa Huizar, Executive Director, National Children's Alliance

Submitted by: Heather Gardner



Courage is a word we typically associate with soldiers, firefighters, policemen and women, and others fighting on the frontlines to keep all of us safe from harm. But courage can also be ascribed to those who push fear, stigma and discomfort aside to talk about that which society keeps in the shadows. These individuals are courageous because their actions -- combating secrecy by communicating openly -- protect us from harm, especially the most vulnerable among us.


Many researchers believe nearly five children die every day in America from abuse and neglect -- some 2,500 a year. Every year during the month April, communities across the country come together in support of this startling issue and focus on prevention and awareness raising to reduce the number of American children who sadly are victims of abuse.


A crime of secrecy, child abuse tragically breeds within our society because it is difficult to talk about. In an effort to break this silence, National Children's Alliance has coordinated the launch of the One With Courage campaign across the country. One With Courage is the first-ever national public awareness initiative centered on the courage it takes to talk about child abuse, learn the signs of abuse, and report abuse when it's suspected.


Why One With Courage? Because it takes tremendous courage for young victims to come forward and talk about the abuse they've experienced. It takes courage for adults to recognize the signs of abuse and report suspected abuse. And it will take courage for all of us to engage in an open dialogue about child abuse.


One With Courage also aims to highlight the unique role children's advocacy centers play in providing comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to child victims of abuse across the country. In 2011 alone, Children's Advocacy Centers across the country served over 279,000 child victims of abuse and their non-offending family members. Without the intervention services of a Children's Advocacy Center like ours, these child victims may never have been helped and statistics tell us the abuse would have likely continued.


As a leader in the child advocacy field, National Children's Alliance believes in the courage it takes to stand up for our children and protect them from abuse. While this issue is brought to the forefront during the month of April, we hope local communities will continue to be One With Courage year-round, and help us win the fight against child abuse and neglect that plagues every community across the country. It is only after we establish informed, empowered communities that we can eradicate child abuse.


More information about how to be One With Courage by equipping our communities with the knowledge needed to recognize the signs of abuse can be found online at Please visit this site to learn the big and small ways each of us can join the fight.
Back to School Thoughts
by Ronda Sorensen
Parent Educator

My grandson's school started last week and as I thought about his first day and wondered how he was doing my mind drifted to my own children's school days and I immediately remembered the homework struggles.  It was not a pretty thought. If you have had similar struggles in you family, you are not alone. 


Dr. Charles Fay co-creator of Love and Logic, a well known parenting approach, said that as a child he had a love-hate relationship with homework, loving the days when he did not have any and hating it when he did.  I imagine most of us and almost all kids can identify with those feelings.  Some of us can identify with regular nightly struggles with getting the homework done, or perhaps the early morning arguments when a sudden revelation has occurred to one of our children and they now remember an assignment due today. We know that studies have shown that homework assignments contribute to improved academic achievement in many children but are aware that homework often becomes the impetus of many unhealthy family experiences.


Dr. Fay says that the problem stems from educators and parents who don't understand the key characteristics of appropriate homework and suggests for homework to be appropriate it should:
1.  Leave time for the child to contribute to the family by doing chores. (Hey, that makes me think.  What about on a big homework night we let our child have a pass from his normal chore.  A free night!  Who wouldn't want to cooperate if mom or day was drying dishes on his night. Just a thought!))
2.  Leave time for the child to play and enjoy being a child. (If this is not happening in your home, you are too busy.  Children have to play every day.  It is how they learn.)
3.  At least 95% of the content should represent repetition and review of things the child already knows how to do correctly. (Children should not be looking at their math assignment as if it is in a foreign language.)
4.  The parent helps only as long as the interaction remains positive. (This means that when your child starts telling you that you don't know anything, you calmly agree and walk away.  Not the time for a different battle over his language.)
5.  It is the child's work...not the parent's work.  (Often children are very discouraged while doing homework.  Now is the time for us to point out the positive aspects, praise their effort.  Let them know how tough it is and how proud of them you are.  If you find errors and mistakes, after you have praised the positive aspects you may suggest the child look over some of the other items but do not change or correct the homework.  This is not your assignment.  Teachers also need to see where the children are struggling to help them focus on areas they need to improve on when teaching.  When we fix everything or give the answers that cannot happen.)


If homework battles are an issue in your family, take some time to see if the five requirements are part of your routine and please consider talking to the teacher and maybe even sharing some of Dr. Fay's suggestions if appropriate.  Good Luck!

Back to School Safety Tips

Staying Safe Online 

By: Richelle Davis

Prevention Educator


A new school year is upon us and is full of excitement and opportunities for children.  Along with the excitement and novelty of a new school year, children with smart phones, tablets, and classroom computers can be exposed to threats from online predators and bullies as they are being exposed to a wide world of learning and information.


Thankfully there are a few things parents can do at the start of a school year to keep children safe while allowing them the freedom to enjoy technology.  Taking a few back to school tech safety precautions is every bit as important as buying school supplies and new clothes, meeting teachers and doing all the necessary things to prepare a child for a successful school year.

Technology Safety Tips:

  1. Monitor your children's online and social media behaviorYou can do this in a number of ways, such as: talking to your children, monitoring their apps, and by setting up internet usage rules.  You can install a safety app on your child's device to monitor your children's behavior on Facebook and Instagram, including when they make new friends, are tagged in posts, photos, or at locations.  Also, teach your child that if they wouldn't say something in person, you shouldn't say it on your social media.
  2. Set up parental restrictions on their mobile devices.  iPhones and Android devices have great parental restriction settings to monitor age appropriate content, music, apps, and gives parent the opportunity to restrict in app purchasing, adding apps, or deleting apps.  Manufactures of other device types are anticipating a roll-out of new restriction operating systems.  Until then, check Google Play for other apps that will help with device restrictions.
  3. Control internet use at homePlace your children's computer in a public area so they can't isolate themselves when online.  Limit the amount of time to use the Internet, or simply disable WiFi certain times of the day to restrict internet access.  Set rules for mobile devices as well.  For example, charge phones overnight in a common area, not in their bedrooms at night.  Check up on their browser history on their phones for use of unacceptable content.
  4. Be aware of your child's use at school.  Ask questions about your child's internet use at school.  Know your child's schools internet policy.  If you have questions or concerns about the policy, discuss them with your child's teacher or administrators.
  5. Pay attention to warning signsBe aware of whether your child is spending an increased amount of time online or on their phones, or isolating themselves, appears withdrawn, or is exhibiting troubled behavior.  These could be signs that your child's safety is threatened.  Awareness is one of the best ways to keep your children safe with their mobile devices.

Source: Safety Tips  

Scheduled Classes


Daycare Provider Trainings  

(Parents are welcome to attend)


Planting the Seeds for the Future

Saturday, September 21

8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Montcalm Community College

6 Class Hours

Cost: Before September 17 $10.00 (after Sept. 17 $15.00)

To register, call Mindy Train (616) 225-6146


Great Start to Quality Orientation 


Friday, September 20

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

Wilcox Non-Profit Center - Alma

No Cost


Other Trainings/Groups 


ACT Raising Safe Kids program

Starts Tuesday, September 10 (meets six times)

5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Wilcox Non-Profit Center - Alma 


Foster/Adoptive/Relative Care Support Group

Tuesday, September 10

6:00 p.m.

Youth for Christ - Alma 


Starting Soon - Nurturing Parenting Program

for parents and their school-age children (5 to 11 years)

Starting in October on Thursday's (meets for 10 weeks)

5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 

United Methodist Church - St. Louis

No Cost


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

Save the Date

Mother Daughter Conference 2013
"A Day of Empowerment for Women and Girls"
Saturday, October 26
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
St. Mary School - Alma
Keynote Speaker: Shuba Vedula
American Idol Finalist
Break-out sessions on hot topics for
 mothers and girls ages 8-14
Sponsored by Child Advocacy and St. Mary School

Thank you for taking the time to read our September Newsletter.  We had a wonderful summer and look forward to a new school year!  Stay tuned for information about our Mother Daughter Conference, new programs, and fun events!

Audra Stahl
Executive Director