Monday, March 11, 2013

Meet Barbara Kuzmic

YWCA Clark County welcomes Barbara Kuzmic as the new Director of the Clark County CASA Program. Since early January 2013, when Barbara moved to the Pacific Northwest from the mountains of Colorado, YWCA Clark County has been fortunate to have her unique skills and experiences driving the CASA program.
Barbara Kuzmic

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nationally accredited advocacy program administered for Clark County by YWCA. CASA’s are specially trained volunteers who advocate for children that are involved in the court or foster care system. As a voice for the child, a CASA ensures that the child’s interests are represented.  Barbara says, “Our volunteers are extremely brave and have huge hearts, and I’m very impressed by that.”

Barbara advocates for women and children throughout her entire career. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavioral Science at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, using her knowledge to empower women and enhance the lives of members of underserved communities ever since. After completing Masters coursework at the California Institute of Integral Studies, she worked as a private psychotherapist specializing in treating victims and perpetrators of criminal violence of physical and emotional abuse.

She also served as a private consultant for behavioral health companies, assisting them with recruiting, structuring and training. She honed her expertise with several organizations in different states, managing social programs, counseling and advocating for adults and juveniles with substance abuse problems, liaising between families, police and courts, and establishing organizational policies regarding drug testing. This work required sensitivity to the cultural norms of the communities she was working with, including American Indians and Native Hawaiians.

These experiences makes Barbara uniquely suited for directing the CASA program here in Clark County. Her work with perpetrators and victims, as well as her strong organizational background, allow her to bring a mixture of compassion and common sense to the position so that CASA can help as many children as possible. Her primary goal as CASA director is to ensure that all of the children in the CASA program are assigned an advocate. National standards dictate that there must be one paid staff member to every 30 CASA volunteers, so Barbara is in the process of obtaining funds in order to hire more staff to support more volunteers. This will ensure that all of the approximately 800 Clark County children who require advocacy receive it.

April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month nationwide, and it is an ideal time for communities to raise awareness of child abuse and prevention. Barbara encourages anyone in the community who would like to make a difference in the life of a child to visit YWCA Clark County, and sign up to volunteer. Contact Stephanie Barr, Director of Volunteer Development at 360 906 9112 or to learn more about volunteering with CASA.

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