The heart of CASA of Laramie County is our advocates.......You may ask why CASA volunteers? By the very nature of “volunteerism” CASA volunteers empower themselves through their commitment of time and energy. Volunteers generally work on only one or two cases at a time and their focus gives them the ability to see and do more on behalf of and individual child.
CASA volunteers are independent of bureaucratic constraints that often keep those employed by our local institutions playing by rules that are outdated or often make less than common sense. Certainly volunteers do not work in a vacuum. It takes the strong support and guidance of local program staff to facilitate their work. Careful screening, training, supervision, and retention are essential to assure high quality volunteer advocacy. Although paid staff plays an integral role in the coordination and management of the program, the traditional role of staff does not include routinely working cases. One primary reason is cost-effectiveness; it is certainly more cost-effective to have one staff person coordinating 30 volunteers serving 75 children as opposed to one staff person carrying 25 cases with 60 children. Still, cost-effectiveness is only a small component of our commitment to the use of volunteers.
CASA volunteers bring a much needed outside perspective to our court and child welfare systems, where the children served don’t have to face the court system alone! The volunteer’s lack of past experience in the system not only brings a fresh perspective to what we do, but it opens our doors to the community and helps raise public awareness of the plight of our community’s abused and neglected children.
Most times the CASA volunteer is the one consist person in that child’s life. To a child, having a volunteer working for them can make all the difference. Hundreds of children across the country have been moved when understanding the notion, “you don’t get paid to do this?” It shows to them the level of concern and commitment being made by the volunteer. No, it’s not part of their “job.” Volunteers are ordinary citizens, doing extraordinary work for children, and along the way bringing such passion, dedication, and effort to their work. The volunteer nature of our work is the very foundation on which the CASA program is built and it remains the most effective and efficient mechanism to serve the greatest number of abused and neglected children well. In the over twenty-five year history, well-trained and supervised CASA volunteers have repeatedly demonstrated their competence in providing high quality advocacy for children. Volunteers are in fact the heart of what we do for children.
Mary Kay Lewis
The Advocates of CASA of
Jo Lee Schuler