Every child needs an advocate. For many children in Lancaster County, their advocate is not a parent, but a volunteer from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). These volunteers provide the consistent emotional support for an abused or neglected child as their case moves through the legal system. Being a CASA volunteer isn’t easy. CASA noticed the need for new volunteers to have their own mentor, someone to ask questions and give advice on cases. The result of this is CASA Peer Coordinator Program.
Wanting to make sure every volunteer was confident in their advocacy, CASA developed the Peer Coordinator program. Even though every CASA volunteer receives extensive training they are highly specialized, this does not guarantee the volunteer will know the best practice for every situation. This program allows for experienced volunteers to act as a mentor for new volunteers, allowing them to ask questions and better their skills as an advocate. The assistance helps smooth over the transition from training to practice.
Lincoln Community Foundation provided a grant to financially assist with recruiting and training for volunteers. “This program is vitally important to our ability to continue to grow the number of children we serve while doing so in the most cost-effective manner possible,” said Dawn Rockey, Executive Director of CASA for Lancaster County. “We have found that through this additional support we are retaining more of our new volunteer advocates than in prior years.”
CASA volunteers act as a voice for a child who can’t use their own. Through the Peer Coordinator program, volunteers now have their own support system, allowing them to confidently advocate, knowing they have someone in their corner.