May 2022 Advocate Spotlight: Tammie Manchester
We invite you to meet Tammie Manchester, nominated by Case Supervisor Karen Lee.
“Tammie shows an incredible amount of care and compassion for everyone involved in her cases,” Karen said. “She goes above and beyond to encourage parents and speak up for the children in her cases.”
We asked Tammie to share about her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
I was a stay-at-home mom, and my kids are all grown. I’m a retired stay-at-home mom now! I was a foster parent twice. I’ve always enjoyed kids, and I’ve always enjoyed volunteering. I’m currently back in school to finish a degree in Human Development and Family Studies.
How did you become interested in volunteering as a CASA?
After being a foster parent twice, I found out about CASA. My kinship placement didn’t work out to be permanent, and a friend asked me what the child’s CASA said about the circumstances. There wasn’t a CASA assigned to any of the children I fostered. I researched what a CASA was and thought, “That has my name all over it.” I originally joined CASA in 2018. I took one case that closed in adoption. After it closed, I took a break. I came back this past January and completed the New Advocate training again before I was sworn in.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
I had no reservations about volunteering. I always have reservations in the courtroom. Am I going to say the right thing? I learned that you just have to say it like it is and what you believe to be in the best interest of the children.
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA. Why is it important for a child in care?
A CASA is an investigator, creative problem solver, collaborator, and cheerleader who works with agencies, parents, foster parents, attorneys, physicians, educators, and most importantly, the children in foster care. These children need someone in their corner to ensure their needs are being met, not just physical but emotional needs as well.
What has surprised you most about your work as a CASA?
I’m surprised by how much value my words have in the courtroom in front of the judge. I remember coming home after my first time in court and realizing this was important work.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a casa? Most rewarding?
Time management is the most difficult part for me. I can go down a rabbit hole when I need to find information to help my CASA child. When I get a case, I try to find family first. I spent my entire spring break trying to find family members for my child. The most rewarding aspect is knowing how important you are to a child’s future.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
Children in foster care have not only suffered the trauma from being separated from their family, but other unimaginable harm. They deserve everything in the world, and we can make a difference in their lives.
What have you learned about children in care?
Children in foster care have the same needs and dreams of children who are fortunate enough to not be in the system. They need the security of someone loving them and showing them that they are valued. Caseworkers have an incredible amount of responsibility and work. That’s where the collaboration comes in with CASA. You can’t have too many sets of eyes on a child in the system.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
I’ve got two. I was the only person who was able to go and love on my baby in the NICU. I thought that was so special to hold and rock my CASA child. My second is when I personally delivered the mom in one of my cases to a rehabilitation center so that she could start her treatment plan. She didn’t have any transportation to get there. I told her, “If you can get yourself a bed, I’ll get you there.” And I got her there.
Anything else you want to share about CASA?
While CASA is about child advocacy, being an Advocate is not the only way you can contribute to the organization. You can assist at fundraisers, attend fundraising events, serve in many other ways. You can never have too many volunteers.