Purchase photos

CASA director adjusting to new role

1/9/2014

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Lyndsey Crisenbery has been on the job as director of CASA of the High Plains, 107 W. 13th, since September.

In that short time, she has learned two important things: The local branch of Court Appointed Special Advocates always can use more volunteers, and it also always can use more donations.

Crisenbery has nine volunteers, and four more soon will have training to become volunteers for the 23rd Judicial District, which covers Ellis, Rooks, Trego and Gove counties. According to CASA of the High Plains, judges appoint CASA volunteers to represent the best interests of children who have been placed under state custody due to abuse or neglect.

"At any given time, there's probably a hundred child abuse and neglect cases just in Ellis County," Crisenbery said. "I think we serve 20 children now. We could always use more volunteers."

Crisenbery, 28, was coordinator for Child Care Aware of Northwest Kansas before becoming CASA's director.

"I had not been involved with CASA beforehand, so it all was a new experience for me," Crisenbery said.

A volunteer typically will spend two to four hours per week working with one case. That involves making a report and making court appearances when necessary.

"If a child abuse or neglect case comes up that needs extra attention, then we would put a volunteer on that," Crisenbery said. "That way, that volunteer can give that child extra attention.

"What my main role is, is to recruit the volunteers and to match them to the appropriate case."

A volunteer will meet with the child, the child's biological parents and the foster parents, as well as any relevant agency, such as mental health services, before filing a report.

Crisenbery, a 2008 graduate of Fort Hays State University, always wanted to be involved with children in some capacity.

"I just fell in love with social work," she said. "I always wanted to work with children. That was my focus, making sure they're getting the best quality of services they deserve."

Crisenbery said finding volunteers is a big part of her job.

"Just finding enough volunteers is probably the biggest challenge," she said. "I know they're out there."

The other challenge is fundraising.

"We are a non-profit, so we have to do fundraising and grant writing," Crisenbery said.

To volunteer, call Crisenbery at (785) 628-8641 or apply online at www.kansascasa.org/district23.

CASA also will have a Valentine's fundraiser Feb. 7 at Rose Garden Banquet Hall. There will be a cocktail hour at 6 p.m., a silent auction, dinner at 7 p.m. and live auction at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 each and available for purchase at Sunflower Bank, Commerce Bank, Equity Bank, Bank of Hays or by contacting the CASA office. Proceeds will benefit the recruitment, training and management of CASA volunteers.