April M. Schueths, Georgia Southern University, works with Child Advocacy Services Southeast Georgia/Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Statesboro, GA. ASA asked Schueths about that work:
What is the mission of Child Advocacy Service? Child Advocacy Services SEGA, Inc, is the sponsoring agency for CASA Ogeechee and The Visitation Centers. Through individualized attention, CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of Georgia’s abused and neglected children. Bringing urgency to a child’s needs, both in and out of the courtroom, CASA volunteers promote safety, permanency and well-being through independent recommendations. As community partners in the child welfare system, CASA volunteers increase abused and neglected children’s access to services (including educational and health needs), promote safety, and advocate for timeliness and permanency for children involved in juvenile court proceedings. CASA volunteers are independent advocates and provide individualized attention for children in a massive state system (www.arcmedia.agency/sega).
Can you describe your involvement with CASA? Since joining the Board, I have been Chair of the Nominations Committee, Chair of the By-Laws Committee, and revised the By-Laws and Policies and Procedures Manual. I have also served as a member of the Personnel Committee. I served as the Board Secretary from 2013 to 2016, and since 2016 I have served as the Vice-Chair. I have assisted with grant writing and connected GSU student interns and volunteers with the agency. In fact, one of my former students is now employed with this agency. I have also conducted research with this agency.
What sociological knowledge and/or skills did you use? I have used research skills, including program evaluation and grant writing skills. I've supervised student interns and volunteers, participated in public speaking and fundraising.
How did you connect with the Child Advocacy Services of Southeast Georgia? Each semester I teach Child Welfare and Family Service (sociology 4231). I invited the Director of this agency to speak to the students in my child welfare class. She asked me to join the Board of Directors, and I have been on the Board since 2011.
Duration of the project? Seven years.
Is there anything else you would like to share about this work? It's a privilege to work with Child Advocacy Services SEGA, Inc. During the last six years, our Executive Director and Board have worked diligently to build this program. Our operating budget has increased more than fourfold; this has allowed us to go from serving nine children in fiscal year 2011 to serving 125 children at the end of the most recent fiscal year. With the additional funding, we have gone from a staff of one to a team of seven paid employees. Our growth has allowed us to recruit and train nearly 100 Volunteer Advocates. During the last year, we have expanded our services to include the only family visitation centers available in two of the counties we serve.