Douglas County, Kansas

CASA Partner Profile: In Conversation with Megan Hosterman of KVC Kansas

February 8, 2024

It takes a village to help a child in need. Douglas County CASA operates within an intricate network of agencies, service providers, and the Kansas judicial system. Our ability to effectively collaborate with these partners is essential to successfully fulfilling our mission.

One of our key partners is KVC Kansas — a regional Case Management Provider (CMP) contracted by the state to address the needs of children and families in the child welfare system due to abuse or neglect. KVC case managers work closely with the child and family to develop a comprehensive plan leading to the child’s placement in a safe, permanent home.  

Court-appointed CASA volunteers observe and report to the court on cases managed by KVC. A volunteer’s role includes visiting the child regularly and attending case planning sessions and hearings. CASA volunteers submit reports and make recommendations to the case manager and the court.

In this conversation, Megan Hosterman, LMSW, of KVC Kansas and CASA Executive Director Erick Vaughn discuss how the agency and the nonprofit collaborate to serve the best interests of children in foster care.

How do KVC Kansas and Douglas County CASA work together? Why is this partnership important?

ERICK: I often say that KVC has an impossible task as they must accept every case given to them — even those with families who have expressed they want nothing to do with a case manager or a person from “the state.” While fulfilling our role as advocates, CASA strives to be a supportive partner to the case manager charged with determining what is in the best interest of the child and the family. 

MEGAN: It is important for the family to have a supportive team throughout this process, and CASA is an integral part. They are able to work with all of the professionals involved to offer helpful feedback, resource options, support to the family, and updates to the court. The child welfare system can be complicated, frustrating, and often heartbreaking, so the more support, advocacy, and positive engagement we can provide to families, the better.

How does involvement and input from a CASA volunteer impact KVC’s case planning and support for the child?

MEGAN: CASA volunteers are committed to building a meaningful and supportive relationship with the child. Their feedback, observations, and assistance can be incredibly helpful to KVC in the coordination of services and making decisions that are in the best interest of the family. 

ERICK: We train our volunteers to build safe and caring relationships with everyone involved, including the child, the family, and the case manager. Volunteers are often in a uniquely helpful position to gather relevant information and make recommendations to the case manager and the court. 

The first 2024 quarterly team meeting of CASA and KVC Kansas.

What are some of the challenges to a successful working relationship between case managers and CASA volunteers? How are those challenges overcome?

ERICK: Case managers and volunteers are helping children and families navigate challenging, life-changing circumstances within a finite period of time and limited resources. There is not often a “right way” or clear path forward. When all parties are committed to information-sharing, it’s possible to assess what avenue is most viable.

This work is very difficult, and with a team of passionate advocates it can sometimes be challenging to come to a consensus on the best course of action to help a child or family. Differing thoughts and opinions are common, but KVC and CASA do a nice job of partnering to reach the best possible outcome for a child.

Please describe what it can look like when KVC case managers and CASA volunteers successfully collaborate.

ERICK: CASA volunteers are often the first person a child calls when they are experiencing a crisis. When that happens, the volunteer immediately loops in the case manager and works on getting information to the right people who can get the child the support they need. Our volunteers also provide critical support to the families, parents, and guardians involved.

MEGAN: Here is one example shared by our case manager, Leilani Murawski, in which KVC and CASA were able to partner on reunifying a family and supporting their success:

CASA was very helpful and supportive as this family worked toward their goal of reintegration. The CASA volunteer was able to help mom purchase and obtain furniture and other necessary items including lamps, bedding, cleaning supplies, and dishes for her new apartment to help facilitate a safe and comforting environment for her children.  They even went as far as helping mom to pick out the couch she wanted so she could make her home her own. The volunteer went out of their way to ensure mom felt supported and assisted her in setting up some of the services needed for the children's schooling and IEP transition. We were able to work as a team to set the family up for success and cheer mom on as she worked hard to reunite with her children! 

What is the future potential for the partnership between KVC and CASA?

MEGAN: It is our hope KVC will continue to partner with CASA well into the future, including collaboration on various projects in the pursuit of an improved child welfare system for all families.

ERICK: We hold quarterly in-person meetings to share updates and discuss any challenges to serving the children and families that rely on KVC and CASA. Going forward, I hope we will jointly raise community awareness about the system-based issues these children and families face as we work together toward permanent solutions.

Recommended read

Related posts

Change a life with CASA

At any given time, there are 165 children from Douglas County in the child welfare system due to abuse and neglect. Help us help those children who are still waiting for a CASA volunteer.