Douglas County, Kansas

Veteran CASA Volunteers Have Dynamic Impact Intervening as a Team

April 9, 2024

Two siblings who have spent nearly their entire lives in households visited frequently by child protective services (the first allegation of physical abuse dates back to 2014), whose parents’ legal rights have been terminated due to persistent substance abuse, now have two trusted, caring adults in their lives. Vera and Steve Gannaway are poised to “call, talk, [and] nag” as much as it takes to ensure their CASA kids’ needs are met while they wait for a safe, permanent and loving home.

The layers of complexity in this case – multiple Individualized Educational Plans, special needs, and four additional siblings currently living in two different placements (one of whom has been assigned to a different CASA volunteer) – don’t faze the couple. Vera took on her first case as a CASA volunteer exactly 30 years ago, right out of law school, and advocated for four siblings living in four different placements. After several years away, she returned to CASA for her 2nd case in 2019, this time with her husband Steve as her co-CASA. They been working as a team ever since, applying their different perspectives, ideas and interests to the complicated situations they encounter.

Double the brainpower, double the care

Tackling CASA cases as a team means that Vera and Steve might pick up on a wider range of details when interviewing the different adults involved in their cases, remember different points to include in court reports, and offer their CASA kids a rich variety of bonding experiences. Vera notes that, for example, when they work with teenage boys who lack positive male role models, Steve is able to connect with them around things like remote control cars, guitars and bikes in a way that she can’t.  His  presence  makes it possible for the teens to get to know the two of them in a “friendly, easygoing way where they don’t feel threatened.” Moreover, the couple can model a strong, mutually respectful adult relationship for CASA kids who might have little exposure to that kind of  dynamic.

The relationship-building with their new CASA kids will be particularly critical with their current case, as the case management provider specifically asked that a CASA volunteer be appointed upon learning that the siblings wouldn’t speak with their case workers. In addition to the years of contending with law enforcement intervening in their lives, the kids have endured several removals from different households in which they lived as well as ongoing court proceedings. Most alarmingly, Vera learned that one child has a health problem that resulted in poor academic performance as far back as 2019. As far as she is aware, that problem has yet to be addressed nearly five years later.

Plans to “nag daily”

Resolving this health problem, learning the status of IEP-required services and tutoring, and facilitating a stronger connection between this sibling pair and their four other siblings will be among Vera and Steve’s top priorities. The couple’s wish is to take as many  of  them  out  as possible and give them all an opportunity to spend time together on a regular basis. In the midst of this critical relationship-building with the goal of earning the kids’ trust, Vera said that she and Steve plan to talk to the kids’ teachers, counselors, foster parents, doctors – daily, if needed – to sort out the most pressing concerns and ensure that everyone involved with the case is working toward the goal of adoption.

It's been a challenging road for this sibling pair and there remain many issues to address, but Vera and Steve approach their role as advocates with positivity, unwavering dedication, and the confidence that they and their supervisor Amy Buchele-Ash can make these kids’ lives better. Your support makes the work of this entire team possible and for that we are all profoundly grateful.


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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.