Peer Coaches = Increased Advocacy for Children in the 4th Judicial District!
Family Advocates’ CASA Program in the 4th District of Idaho was able to provide advocacy for 355 children during our last fiscal year (FY18). We accomplished this through the hard work and compassion of 117 Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers. Although our volunteer GALs were able to serve 12% more children than the year prior, we were still unable to serve 100% of the children in need of these services. Thus leading the program to start reaching and developing other long-term sustainable models to support more children in Foster Care in Idaho.
Currently, our CASA Program has 4 staff members, called Advocate Coordinators, who recruit, train, and support our volunteer Guardians ad Litem. In accordance with National CASA Association standards, each Advocate Coordinator can support a maximum of 30 volunteers. To bridge the gap between staff needs and funding, the 4th CASA Program is excited to announce their adoption of the Peer Coach model.
A Peer Coach (PC) is a volunteer support role developed by National CASA in 2015. A PC is an experienced CASA/GAL volunteer who is nominated by program staff and are specially trained to support other GAL volunteers throughout their cases with the intention of making regular support more accessible to volunteers. One PC supports 3-5 GAL volunteers under this model. The Peer Coach role is a 2-year commitment with an average of 15-20 hours a month.
Over the last 4 months we have solicited nominations and interviewed potential volunteers and are ecstatic to announce that we have four new Peer Coaches… Nanci Quast-Bent, Sandy Sullivan, Brenda Munsey, and Lynda Humphries!!! The program is excited to support and further invest in our courageous volunteer GALs and serve more children in the foreseeable future under this new model. Pictures and Bios for these amazing volunteers are below.
A special thank you to Nicole Hanson (Advocate Coordinator/Peer Coach Supervisor) for her leadership, patience, vision, and tenacity in getting this model off the ground alongside our talented Training Development Team (Nanci Quasi-Bend, Sandy Uberuaga Sullivan, Brenda Munsey, Lynda Humphries, James McMahon, and Jon McCarty).
Nanci spent 33 years as a Juvenile Probation Officer in CA. This position was also responsible for handling the initial investigations of reports of child abuse and neglect. During this time, she started the YEA (Youth Educational Advocacy) project to identify educational needs and provide resources, and initiated bringing family advocacy services into JV Probation. Afterwards, she was an Assistant Principle at an alternative high school in San Jose for 5 years where she developed SARB (Student Attendance Review Board) which was an attendance recovery program. In 2005 she moved to Star, ID and found she drastically missed working with children who needed an advocate so she found Family Advocates. Over the 14 years Nanci has been with Family Advocates, she has been a Guardian ad Litem as well as provided a variety of supports, including training and mentoring other volunteers. When she’s not advocating for children, you can find her playing pickleball!
Sandra Uberuaga Sullivan
Sandra and her husband moved to Meridian from Hailey in 2017 looking for mild winters. She says their first winter was anything but, and is happy Winter 2017 was the exception. Sandra is the mother of six adult children and grandmother to fifteen. She has been a CASA volunteer for over five years. Sandra’s cases have ranged from monitoring telephone conversations to convincing the Judge that a suicidal 14 year old girl receive inpatient care. She says most rewarding was locating 3 little boys whose abusive parent had taken them out of state. Sandra remains passionate about being a CASA Guardian ad Litem.
Brenda was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and attended Boise State University, where she obtained both her Bachelor’s degree in Management and her Master’s degree in Business. She has worked her entire career in the Human Resources field, primarily in health care. Brenda is currently the Regional HR Director for Vibra Healthcare, a national hospital organization. Brenda has been a Guardian ad Litem with our program for close to 5 years and has advocated for approximately 20 children during this time. She has one grown daughter, Alyssa, who teaches 2nd grade locally. Brenda has always volunteered her time to many different organizations because she feels it is important to give back to her community.
Lynda was raised in Boise, in the downtown area and has been married for over 35 years. She has a blended family of six kids and nine grandkids. She worked in the financial industry for 40 years, leading people, functions, and projects and has been retired for over 2 years now. Lynda has been a Guardian Ad Litem for a year and finds it very rewarding to help children be safe, help families heal, and help Child Protection laws work for the best interest of the kids. Lynda’s advice to new GALs is stay with it, one step at a time to learn the process, keep learning, and focus on the kids!