In 2011, CASA of Lane County was one of two pilot Peer Coordinator (PC) programs in the nation.  This model leverages the power of skilled, experienced volunteer Peer Coordinators as “coaches” for other CASA volunteers along with direct support from Program Staff. Each PC coaches 3-5 CASA volunteers throughout the course of their cases, giving them regular support and allowing us to grow our advocacy for kids without growing our budget. In the first five years of implementation, CASA of Lane County has increased capacity to advocate for 50 percent more children.

Want to know more about our implementation of the PC Model? Read our PC Model Review and Transition Guide. Here are other pieces that may be of interest:

Below, meet two of our 30 volunteer Peer Coordinators (PCs).  Gail and Linda were both part of the original PC cohort. Interested in how to become a PC?  Check out the PC Job Description and FAQs.

Gail Culbertson

Culbertson, GailCASA volunteer: Since 2004
Peer Coordinator: Since 2011

Q. How many CASA volunteers are you currently coaching and how many hours a week do you spend with them?

A. I currently work with three CASA volunteers. The time I spend with them varies; it often depends on what is going on in their cases. It could be every day for a week or once a month for their report and a phone call.

Q. What has this experience meant to you?

A. My PC experience has been encouraging and rewarding, seeing people really work on behalf of the children. I enjoy helping them ask appropriate questions, and decide who to talk to and how to say it. I am there to debrief with a CASA when they encounter things they are not sure about. This volunteer experience fits in with my passion of helping children and families to live better lives. Being a PC allows more children and families to be served and to succeed.

Linda McCarthy

McCarthy, LindaCASA volunteer: Since 2007
Peer Coordinator: Since 2011

Q. How many CASA volunteers are you currently coaching and how many hours a week do you spend with them?

A. I have had ten CASAs; I currently work with six. Time has never averaged more than 15 hours a month; usually it is more like 10.  The CASA volunteers are well trained.  I just spend time with them helping them remember what they learned in class. I am organized and I think that really helps me. Also, with our new OPTIMA program database, the paperwork is much easier.

Q. Why did you want to become a Peer Coordinator?

A. The first reason is there were only 150 CASA volunteers to reach the 1,200 foster kids in Lane County.  That meant that only some kids got CASAs. When I heard we could double our kids served without doubling the budget, I was all for that! We could advocate for more children so they wouldn’t get lost in the system. Case workers and lawyers do their job but they can’t do what a CASA does.

The second reason was to have the opportunity to meet the new people and hear all their fascinating stories about why they came to CASA. It is just wonderful to be able to support them.

Q. Is it difficult to be a Peer Coordinator?

A. It is easier than people think. All you have to do is guide and listen to the CASA. They do all of the footwork. You are there to ask, “Did you talk to so and so?” or “Did you check that?” I always respond quickly so they feel comfortable and will ask me again.

Q. How often do you meet with each of your CASAs?

A. I make phone calls and visits at least once a month. Some people like to get together a lot so I will meet with them more often. Others have busy lives and once we get past their first three initial visits and they have met the children they are off and running.

I like to meet with them before their initial CRB and before their first court hearing. Often, they may be nervous about what they are saying and may miss what is being said. I like to go to court with my CASAs because I can often pick up extra information. It is helpful to have a second set of ears.

Q. What would you want CASAs to know?

A. I like to let them know they are appreciated and supported; to know they are making a difference.

Q. What has this experience meant to you?

A. As a CASA volunteer, I love seeing what my volunteerism is doing and the affect it has on the kids’ lives. On my CASA case, I had a large family and without a CASA their chances at a normal life would not have been so great. I knew I could give money, volunteer on a board or do fund raising but being a CASA was results I could actually see and know I had made a difference.