When CASA volunteer advocates graduate training, they are automatically assigned what is called a “Program Manager” in their region. Program managers are CASA staff members who provide supervision, support and ongoing training for volunteer advocates. Meet Jerry Larson, a program manager out of the Laconia office who supervises volunteers working in the Laconia, Ossipee and Conway family courts.
Prior to becoming an employee, Jerry began his time with CASA of New Hampshire as a volunteer advocate in the Lakes Region after learning about CASA through his local church. Jerry served as a volunteer advocate for four years when a program manager position opened up in CASA’s Berlin office. After 30 years in the construction business, he decided it was time to hang up his tool belt and turn his focus to New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children.
Jerry served as a program manager for Coos County for 13 years before moving to CASA’s Laconia office in 2018. Jerry’s daily routine consists of providing general support to his volunteer advocates like answering case questions, reviewing court reports, connecting volunteer advocates with caseworkers and service providers to solve case complexities.
The role of a CASA volunteer advocate is not always easy, Jerry says.
“You are going to learn things about children that you never knew, and may not want to know, but you’ll find that you are making a difference in the life of a child and helping to break the cycle of abuse.”
Jerry finds his support and communication critical in helping CASA’s carry out their casework.
“I like to call into my CASA volunteer advocates as much as I can to see how they are doing,” he says. Jerry makes his best effort to be a great support. Whether that is to provide help with a question or just to call and say you are doing a great job or to ask ‘how can I help?’ Like all of CASA’s program managers, Jerry wants all of his advocates to know that he will always be there for them.
“I always put the CASA first in all situations,” says Jerry. “I never hesitate to tell them when they have done a great job. Saying ‘thank you’ is important to me.”
Jerry takes pride in watching his CASA volunteer advocates grow in their professional development over the length of a case. Jerry has witnessed many CASA volunteer advocates with no prior experience in the child protection system to stand up
as “expert witnesses” because of their dedication and determination to speaking for the child’s best interest.
As Jerry starts working with new CASAs, he always makes sure that they understand that their opinion is most important when working a case. Like all CASA program managers, he is there to provide guidance that helps his CASA volunteer advocates find the confidence to speak for what they believe is the best interest of the child. Jerry believes firmly that because of the CASA volunteer advocate’s strong relationship with the children they work with, they know what is in their best interest.
Jerry is one of 14 Program Managers that work throughout the state to support volunteer advocates. As a CASA volunteer, you can be sure that you will always have someone to answer your questions!