A Bit About Us

Here at CASA of Southwest Idaho, we believe in being a voice for the voiceless. As one of many CASA organizations throughout the nation, we are the only party in a case whose sole responsibility is to speak up for foster children's best interests. As a result, when we step in, children are twice as likely to be placed in a permanent, safe home at the end of their case. Scroll on to meet our full-time do-gooders, and learn why we are determined to help our community's vulnerable children succeed in Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Washington, and Adams Counties.

 

MEET OUR STAFF

The selfless humans who make all of this possible.

CHRISTINA WALKER

Executive Director

Beyond her twin children and gorgeous dogs, helping children and families live strong and healthy lives is Christina's true passion. She is paramount in the structuring and encouraging all of our volunteers and staff. She is a monumental force for good, and a fearless leader to boot!

MACKENZIE BANNISTER

Community Outreach Manager

Mackenzie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family: Policy and Advocacy, and she has been volunteering since she was 12. She has always been driven to act as a voice for the voiceless.

BEKAH BOWMAN

Volunteer Manager

Bekah comes to us with many years of non-profit and volunteer management experience. She is a freelance writer and author on the side and enjoys spreading joy and hope to those in broken places. Bekah is a mom, a rare disease advocate, and a proud coach’s wife.

ELISA HIGBEE

Program Manager

Elisa attended Boise State University and graduated with her Bachelors in Psychology. She loves adventuring in the great outdoors, and has always had a passion for helping others. Elisa is glad to be advocating for the children in the 3rd Judicial District.

JENNY EASLEY

Advocate Coordinator

Jenny spent many years working in public schools, and she earned a degree at Boise State University to prepare her for non-profit and social advocacy work. When she isn't working, she loves spending time with her husband and four kids.

KATRINA ALFORD

Advocate Coordinator

Katrina has always had a passion for children and their well-being. She has volunteered with many children organizations throughout her life. After she finishes her degree, she plans on working with children and families who have experienced trauma.

ANGELICA MANZO

Advocate Coordinator

Angelica comes to us with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, minoring in Ethnic Studies. Angelica has spent much of her time working with children in after school, respite, and psychosocial rehabilitation settings, and has a passion for working towards equity for all.

TAMMY DITTENBER

Advocate Coordinator

Tammy became a GAL volunteer a year ago, as her youngest daughter started college, and has felt the importance of this work. She is excited and feels honored to work with staff and volunteers to look after the most vulnerable among us.

LISA HARM

Office Manager

Lisa is a wife and mother of three and grandma of six, and she treasures her time with her family. She is passionate about her flower garden and enjoys photography. Lisa is excited to be part of this program, helping make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.

 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW MANY FOSTER CHILDREN DO YOU SERVE?

CASA of Southwest Idaho serves an average of 700 children a year. While we do take on every case assigned to us by our counties' judges, there are still roughly 200 children every year that go without representation. Our goal is to raise an additional $115,000 annually so that we can reach these children as well.

Donate today to help us reach our goal.

WHY WAS THE GUARDIAN AD LITEM/CASA PROGRAM FOUNDED?

In 1978, Judge David Soukup felt frustrated as he looked around during juvenile court and realized no one was there to speak for the child. He consistently felt tormented by this, staying up until 4am hoping he had made the right ruling for the children whose lives he had impacted. His concern drove him to recruit volunteers to investigate the children's cases and be a voice for these voiceless children during these cases that impact their entire lives.

WHY IS HELPING FOSTER CHILDREN SUCH A BIG DEAL?

Frankly, it's a big deal because we're talking about children. The most vulnerable (and adorable) population on Earth. Foster children in particular are very vulnerable. All of these children have experienced at least one form of severe trauma. As a result of this child trauma, 65% of children in long-term Foster Care develop mental illness; 42% of foster children will not graduate high school; and teenage girls in Foster Care are 250% more likely to be pregnant by age 19. When our volunteers step in, we reduce these same children's chances of re-entering care by half, and make them 8 times more likely to graduate high school. Put simply, we give them a WAY better shot at life.

Learn more about volunteering with CASA of Southwest Idaho.

HOW DOES A CASA SERVE CHILDREN?

Here is the timeline of a typical Foster Care case, which typically lasts 12+ months:

  1. The judge assigns us a case, and we assign a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). 

  2. Our CASA (often accompanied by an Advocate Coordinator for their first few cases) attends every court hearing from there on out.

  3. Between each hearing, the CASA conducts monthly home visits, investigating the children's circumstances in their foster home, biological home, and school.

  4. A week before each case, the CASA compiles all of their findings, along with their recommendations for the child, into a report (often with the help of their Advocate Coordinator), and submits the report to the judge.

  5. The judge takes the CASA's findings and recommendations into account while making their ruling in the Foster Care case.

  6. This repeats until either the child is reunified, or parental rights are terminated and the child is adopted. 

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PO Box 789 Caldwell, ID 83606

208-459-9969

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©2020 by The Third District Guardian ad Litem Program. Supported in part by VOCA. Endorsed by the National CASA Association.