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Focused on Safe and Healthy Families Child abuse is more prevalent than most people are aware of and it happens in every community. Even ours. A presidential proclamation in 1983 deemed April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, recognizing the need of teamwork between families and communities to prevent child abuse. Fortunately, there are organizations who do make a primary goal of helping children and families affected by child abuse. I spoke with staff at the Court Appointed Special Advocates and River City Family Connections offices in Yankton about their roles. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program I sat down with Sherri Rodgers-Conti, Executive Director of our CASA program, located in Yankton. The organization trains people to be advocates that work in the court system for abused and neglected children. Rodgers-Conti explains the group as “the eyes and ears of the court.” She explained the history of CASA to me. Forty years ago, a judge in Seattle, Washington, had to come to a decision about a child’s situation. Deciding that he could accomplish this with the help of others, he began training people to become child advocates, training them to be objective and factual while observing the situation and report the necessary information back to the court. This program was so successful that several court systems followed this model. There is now a National CASA Association, with just about 1,000 CASA programs in the U.S., six of them in South Dakota. The Southeast CASA Program, is the youngest of the South Dakota programs, starting about six years ago. A teacher by trade, Rodgers-Conti has always had what’s best for children in her mind, striving to make a difference in the lives of kids. Before her time with CASA, she was previously working at Public Broadcasting as the director of Education Services for the state. When the education department was eliminated due to budget cuts, she applied for the position to implement the CASA program after Judge Mary Dell Cody and a team of board of directors made the first steps necessary to begin. Not unfamiliar with CASA, Rodgers-Conti had heard about the program several years ago after talking with someone leading a CASA program in another town. CASA Sherri Rodgers-Conti, Executive Director and Crystal Gemar, Case Manager. River City Family Connection Amy Haselhorst, Monitor/Education Specialist and Brad Link, Coordinator. We protect it. You live it. I’m here to help life go rightTM – so you can enjoy it, while I help protect it. Let’s talk about your life insurance options. Rhonda L. Wesseln, Agent Yankton, SD 57078 Bus: 605-665-4411 www.rhondainsuresyou.com 1601487 16vHERVOICEvMARCH/APRIL 2018 CALL ME TODAY. State Farm Life Insurance Company (Not licensed in MA, NY or WI) State Farm Life and Accident Assurance Company (Licensed in NY and WI) Bloomington, IL

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