Athens-Oconee CASA Peer Coordinator Program
Since 2016 Athens Oconee CASA has utilized the Peer Coordinator (PC) model to serve more cases and support more volunteers. Now in 2021 we are taking a moment to look at how far this initiative has come and its impact on our program!
PCs are seasoned volunteers with case work experience and familiarity with the CASA role. They are nominated for this opportunity and undergo a special training prior to taking on volunteers of their own. Like CASAs Peer Coordinators are still volunteers. We as staff recognize the hard work and dedication it takes to become a Peer Coordinator. PCs have become a vital part of our work and service in Athens and Oconee counties!
We interviewed our current PCs and asked them to share a little more about why they became a PC, key takeaways of the program, and advice for those who become PCs with our program in the future.
What inspired you to become a PC?
When asked if she would be willing to serve as a PC, Patty Riehm, who has been a PC with Athens-Oconee CASA for a year and a half, said, "the idea appealed to me because teaching and mentoring have always been a part of my work life." The Peer Coordinator position allows volunteers to offer guidance and mentorship to CASAs, which is often already a big part of their daily lives!
What is the biggest thing you learned from the PC program?
Patty Riehm described perfectly the effectiveness of the PC program, and how it allows CASA to reach and support more children:
"I have 3 CASAs and 3 cases but at one time it was 4, for a total of 7 children. I am not spending any more hours per month than I was I was as a CASA with one case that had one child."
Not only do PCs help Athens-Oconee CASA reach more children in the community, but it does so by increasing efficiency without a drastic jump in volunteer hours required from each person!
What kinds of tasks do you perform on a weekly basis as a PC?
What is your favorite part of being a PC?
Susan Evans has been a Peer Coordinator for the past 2 years, and still feels inspired by the energy of new CASAs each day:
"I find the enthusiasm of the new CASAs I work with encouraging & contagious. (I suppose it's safe to suggest it's a self-selecting group of caring people.) Naturally, I also love seeing faster forward motion toward successful resolutions for foster kids once a dedicated CASA gets involved."
What is one thing you want to tell to people who are considering becoming a Peer Coordinator?
"Don't be discouraged from being a Peer Coordinator just because you feel like you don't know enough about all the ins & outs (and acronyms!) of the complex system. We're all aware of deficits in our knowledge-bases, but the support of the employees is tremendously helpful at filling in the gaps." -Susan Evans