Dear Advocate,

At the closing of your case, I hope you can look back on these past 18 months with a feeling of accomplishment. Know that your advocacy made a difference in the life of a child. I’m sure there were ups and downs along the way. Now is the time to take all that you have learned and plan for your next step with CASA of Yellowstone County.

To help you evaluate your experience thus far, you will be invited to an interview with your Peer Coordinator and a Program Coordinator. Take advantage of this meeting to think through the challenges and triumphs of your case. Consider what might have been helpful to know before you started working with your child. Did you feel supported by those working with you? How much time do you need before you start your next case? It is important to take your time at this stage. You know the break you need (or perhaps don’t need) before you decide about your future plans as a CASA.

One option, though it may be a tough one to take, is to step away. You know the type of energy and commitment it takes to do your best advocacy work. The children we serve deserve no less. Many of our CASA “alumni” continue to support our program financially and by positive word-of-mouth in the community. It is better to leave the organization proud of your accomplishments than burned out and ineffective.

With that said, I hope you do decide to stay with CASA. Perhaps there is a different type of case that you would like to explore. Consider working with a child in a different developmental stage. You may also want to grow in your understanding of issues such as poverty or mental illness that affect the lives of our children. If you worked with a single child, this could be the time to select a case with multiple siblings.

There are many needs and options when it comes to advocating for the children in our community. Your Peer Coordinator or the Program Coordinators will be happy to help you identify where your strengths lie. They may also encourage you to consider becoming a Peer Coordinator yourself. After completing an additional training, you would be prepared to work in the CASA program as a volunteer leader. The advocates you would be assigned to will benefit from your recent knowledge and experience with case work.

Advocate, your commitment to inform the court of the needs of your child in the foster system has been appreciated. I wish you the best as you take your next step forward with CASA of Yellowstone County.

A fellow CASA cheering you on

Jennifer Mack was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in 2014 and is currently a volunteer Peer Coordinator.