March 2022 Advocate Spotlight: Paula Piecyk
We invite you to meet Paula Piecyk, nominated by Assistant Program Director Susan Truscott and Case Supervisor Francine Stanfield.
“Paula completed her Advocate training in June 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, and took her first case in August,” Susan said. “Paula has had six cases in her time with CASA, three of which she still has. Paula’s no-nonsense approach to matters, coupled with her background in education, make her an excellent asset to CASA.”
We asked Paula to share about her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
I’m a retired special education teacher. I have worked many years with students with special needs, most recently with children with high-functioning autism. I am a Surrogate Parent for Spring ISD to children who live in residential treatment facilities. I advocate for their special education programs, including goals and objectives, accommodations, and other parts of the IEP/ARD meetings. I work with kindergarten through eleventh grade. My background helps me understand the sensitivities, pain, anger, and happiness children in care feel.
How did you become interested in volunteering as a CASA?
Prior to retiring, I investigated CASA and what an Advocate did because I wanted to continue working with children. I heard about CASA many years ago when a friend told me about it.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
I didn’t have any reservations. My one concern was about how enmeshed to become in a child’s life. I had the most amazing supervisor, Susan Truscott, guide me through all my questions and concerns.
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA. Why is it important for a child in care?
I want to understand the needs of the child and what is best for the child. Does the child have special needs? I want the child to feel he or she matters and are important to me and let them know I will do my very best for him or her. I will provide consistency in the child’s life and create a bond of trust.
What has surprised you most about your work as a CASA?
I was most surprised by the number of children CASA serves in Montgomery County.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a casa? Most rewarding?
The most difficult part is the initial contact—not knowing what kind of reaction you will receive from the child, the family, and the caregivers. My most rewarding moment was when the caregivers told me how much they appreciated me and what a big difference I made for them in their journey.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
Children in care are part of a system that is overwrought with issues, from staffing to foster homes to available and willing families to treatment facilities. There are so many children and not enough of everything else. I’d like the community to know that help can be provided through volunteering or making a small monthly donation. I’d like the community to know the needs we have, the needs the children have, and how they can easily help us.
What have you learned about children in care?
Children in care need to feel loved, wanted, and important. Their needs must be met, and they need an adult on whom they can depend to always be there for them, through the good times and the hard times. I believe CASA provides a necessary support system for the children.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
I will treasure all of my CASA memories.
Anything else you want to share about CASA?
The staff are the most loving, caring individuals I have met in a long time, and I am honored to be associated with them.