At the heart of Boston CASA are the exceptional people who dedicate their time, energy and resources towards ensuring a higher quality of care for Boston’s most vulnerable children. #fostercare #awareness
Meet Anne Silver – she joined Boston CASA as a volunteer in Spring 2013 and became an Advocate Supervisor on Boston CASA’s staff in February 2017.
**How did you come to start volunteering at CASA and then join the staff?
I have spent most of my career in corporate environments, but I had long wanted to transition into a non-profit and/or social services role. About 5 years ago, I began to look for volunteer opportunities that could offer a meaningful connection to the organization’s mission that I often felt was missing from my professional roles. I began volunteering with an organization that advocated for systems change in the children’s mental health services delivery and for Boston CASA. I have been a CASA volunteer for a young child in foster care for the last 3.5 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed my role. I have connected with this young boy through the latter part of the court process where his parents’ rights were terminated, through several changes of schools and after school programs, four foster home placements and a handful of social workers. I have seen him struggle, bounce back, and now thrive after receiving – if not permanency – at least consistency, through a stable and loving foster home. Until this experience, I had not found anything with which I connected as strongly or felt was as rewarding, both to the child and to me. When I learned of the availability of the advocate supervisor role, I jumped at the chance to join this amazing organization which impacts childrens’ lives for the better. I am energized and grateful for each opportunity to support children and youth through what is often a challenging time in their lives.
**What motivates you to keep serving as a long-term child welfare advocate?
I was raised in a large family with numerous brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and even a great-grandparent who were always available to provide encouragement and cheers for my successes and a shoulder for support through the challenging periods in my life. As a very young child, you assume that everyone is raised in similar circumstances, but of course, that is not the case. I strongly believe that safety and stability are a child’s fundamental right. CASAs work to achieve that for children that they support. I have been impressed and amazed by the difference that the commitment and dedication of our volunteers makes for individual children involved in the child welfare system. Witnessing the difference that CASAs make for their kids inspires me to continue working in and with a system that often times feels overwhelming in its challenges.
**Describe a moment when you realized your work with CASA was helping.
As noted above, I have been a CASA for the last few years for a young boy in DCF care. After about 2 years on the case, I attended a treatment team meeting to discuss some recent behavioral and placement changes. The conference room was filled with about a dozen individuals, including the child’s clinician, special education teachers, school psychologist, behavioral management team, mentor and social worker. During the course of the meeting where a number of issues were discussed, it became clear to me that I was the longest-standing member of his team. I was the one who had the history regarding the length and sequence of his foster care placements, his school assignments and family background. Most of the team members had recently transitioned onto the team or were about to transition off the team. It hit home to me at that moment that I had been the most consistent person in his life for those two years, which given his young age, represented a significant part of his life. I realized that by showing up month after month and understanding the myriad facets of his life, I was adding value and supporting him. By showing up consistently and keeping tabs on him, I had been able to provide a perspective to the team that no one else had.
**What do you enjoy most in your role of supervising volunteer advocates?
There are so many things that I enjoy about supervising volunteers, but if I have to pick just one to note, I will say that I love working with individuals who have such wide-ranging experiences and motivations for working as CASAs. Our volunteers have achieved tremendous things in their “regular” lives, and they all bring aspects of their experiences to their work as CASAs. I value the breadth of knowledge we have to draw from with our volunteers and I love the rich and varied perspectives that they draw on for their CASA kids. That said, though, I have also been the beneficiary as a supervisor of one attribute that they all have in common: dedication. I continue to be amazed by the sheer number of hours that the volunteers put in on behalf of their kids and the things that they are able to accomplish within a challenging system, sometimes seemingly by sheer force of will. Their commitment and persistence, occasionally even in the absence of tangible success, would be impressive under any circumstances, but when considered in the context that they are volunteers….their efforts are nothing short of extraordinary.