Amy Schuchman has been a board member for five years, and served as the President of the Board from 2015-2017. Amy is currently working in the felony division of the County Attorneys Office prosecuting cases of child abuse and sexual abuse. She was previously in the Juvenile County Attorney Office for 13 years primarily doing termination of parental rights.
How did you get involved with CASA?
I had worked with CASA for many years while I was a Juvenile County Attorney before I became a board member. In my role as a DCA, I came to truly respect the work and the opinions of the various CASAs assigned to my cases. I ran into Kim, the new Executive Director at the time, after a meeting at Project Harmony, and I told her that I would love to volunteer in some way with the organization. I was expecting to work in the clothes donation department or at the holiday party, but she asked that I apply for the board, and the rest is history.
What do you find most challenging about the child welfare system?
The most challenging thing about the child welfare system is refraining from imparting your own ideals or parenting beliefs on a family. The law does not require perfection of a parent. It can be hard to support reunification when things aren't "perfect," but no parent is truly perfect. Just ask my children. 🙂
What do you wish other people knew about CASA?
I wish people knew what a difference CASAs truly make in the life of a child. CASAs are sometimes the only stable support a child has during their time in foster care. Placements can disrupt, case managers may change jobs, guardian ad litems can switch around, but generally CASAs stay put. Research shows that having a CASA involved decreases the length of time a child stays in care. Not only does it benefit the child, but there is such a reward for those volunteering. For anyone having a few extra hours a month and wanting to make a difference in the life of a child, please check out www.casaomaha.org/volunteer.
Why are you supporting CASA as opposed to other groups working on child welfare?
There are so many great groups in our community that are dedicated to improving the lives of children in the foster care system. I am supporting CASA because I've seen the positive results first-hand of having a CASA involved on a case.
The interest in CASA seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
I think interest in CASA is growing because the public is becoming ever more aware of children suffering from physical or sexual abuse. What once used to be such a taboo topic is now front and center because of the Jerry Sanduski case or the #metoo movement or the Larry Nassar sentencing hearings. People want to help. People want to make a difference. Volunteering with CASA is a great way to make our community better. My favorite quote is "To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world." People want to be the world for others now.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating or volunteering?
Do it! The money you donate will go directly to fund the sustainability of this wonderful program. The time you spend volunteering will benefit some of the most vulnerable members of our community. You'll have zero regrets donating either time or money.
What do you think will change about CASA over the next five years?
Over the next five years, we'll continue to expand in terms of staff, volunteers, and children we are able to serve. Hopefully within five years we'll be able to provide a CASA to every child in foster care that needs one.