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Maithé Harispe, CASA and CASA Coordinator

As a former educator, stepping into the role of CASA Coordinator (CC) was not a leap into unfamiliar territory. Coaching and encouraging new learning and skill development is somewhat second nature to someone who has been a teacher and school administrator.

Working with dedicated, committed volunteers is as much a pleasure as working with dedicated, hardworking teachers or enthusiastic, inquisitive kids. And, for one who has always loved learning new things, working with several CASAs each with an interesting case, each case unique with its own set of challenges, only expands my opportunity to learn new things and increase my under-standing of the world of foster care and the dependency court.

For me, the past year as a CASA Coordinator has provided many positive benefits. However, the role is not to provide personal benefits to the CC but to provide assistance and guidance to the CASA volunteers. Over the course of the year, I have made a concerted attempt to be there for my CASAs — whether it is to help them develop appropriate goals, assist them with report writing or simply bounce ideas around with them on how to proceed in their cases.

My biggest concern is always: Am I providing them sufficient assistance? Am I giving them the best answers? Am I not overstepping my role? Am I providing enough moral support and encouragement? Finding the right balance isn’t always obvious and each volunteer may need something a little different. So, as the CC, I try to do the best I can to provide every CASA the help and guidance they need while juggling all the other aspects of personal life.

Thankfully, our Program Managers and Program Supervisors are always there in times of need to provide the right answers, to keep us on track, and to give that extra bit of TLC and encouragement.

Calling all volunteers!

CASA Coordinators are experienced volunteers who support and coach new CASAs as they begin their advocacy for foster youth. They help the new volunteers better understand court and CASA policies and procedures, as well as the child welfare system and community resources. CASA Coordinators also provide emotional support through shared experiences. You must have at least one year of experience as a CASA to apply for this opportunity. If you are interested in finding out more about being a CASA Coordinator, please contact Lynne Gabriel, Director of Volunteer Services, at 323-526-6306 or lgabriel@casala.org.