March 2023 Advocate Spotlight: Tammy Sisson
We invite you to meet Tammy Sisson, nominated by Case Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator Sol O’Leary.
“Tammy is extremely consistent, exceeding expectations every single month,” Sol said. “She has been assigned to very difficult cases. She establishes strong communication with all parties involved and works collaboratively in her cases. In her current case, she is excelling in medical advocacy. The child has complicated medical needs, and Tammy is involved in all aspects of care: school, medical appointments, medications, therapies, parental visitations, formal meetings, etc. She is an invaluable resource for everyone involved in the child’s life.”
We asked Tammy to share her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
My background in education taught me to be a team player. A team approach works best when advocating for a child. Communication is needed between all parties involved with the child (caseworkers, parents, foster parents, relatives, teachers, CASA, therapists, etc.) to share information and work for the best interest of the child.
How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?
I first heard of CASA while working as a speech pathologist in an inner-city public school. A CASA Advocate attended an ARD (Admission, Review, and Dismissal education meeting) for a student who was on my caseload and brought valuable information that helped in understanding the emotional and educational needs of the child. Her insights to help us better understand the child were similar to what we discuss as part of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) during CASA training–seeing the need behind the behavior. I was interested in volunteering in hopes of making a positive difference in a child’s life.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
It seemed a little scary at first to learn of the allegations that led to the removal of a child from their home and knowing that I would be in contact with those involved in the allegations. My fears were lessened with training, supervision, support from CASA, and experience.
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA aDVOCATE. Why is it important for a child in care?
Working as an Advocate is multi-faceted. It includes getting to know the child and building a supportive relationship; visiting the child frequently to make sure they are in a safe environment and their needs are being met; attending Family Group Conferences to gather information and discuss hopes and dreams for the child; encouraging parents to complete their service plan and providing them with information as needed; observing occasional parent visitations to better understand family dynamics; staying in close contact with the caseworker and CASA supervisor on progress and concerns in the case; and attending court hearings to testify in the child’s best interest.
What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?
The number of children in the foster care system in Montgomery County and the circumstances leading up to removal. A lot of us are unaware of the struggles in our community.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being an advocate? Most rewarding?
I have been a CASA Advocate for almost ten years and have worked mostly with teens in the foster care system. The most difficult aspect for me is when a teen turns eighteen, and CASA is no longer assigned to the case. Yes, I miss them! The most rewarding aspect is helping and supporting these kids along the way.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
Most of the children in care have had a tough childhood and may need extra guidance and support to help them become successful adults.
What have you learned about children in care?
Older children can come into care because of their caregivers’ actions or their own behaviors. The child welfare system has the child’s best interest in mind when trying to find placements and provide services; however, some resources may be limited due to the nature of the case and prior circumstances.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
A teen who had been in foster care for almost four years was adopted into a family who was not related to her.
Is there anything else you want to share about CASA?
CASA Advocates are a crucial resource to help and support children in the foster care system, and I am very proud to be an Advocate!