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Ronald Buie: Stopping the Revolving Door

Ken Bailey
When presenting him with the advocate of the year award, Hon. James Lamz (left) said Buie is a role model in the lives of the children he serves.

Ronald Buie could see that the odds were stacked against Tim. Fifteen years old and returning to the foster care system in the midst of a failing adoption, Tim felt angry and unwanted. An increasingly rebellious teen, he was in danger of repeating the mistakes of his dysfunctional family.

“After I was assigned to be his CASA volunteer, it took me a bit of digging to realize that the family who had adopted Tim did not want him. They adopted him and his younger brother because they wanted the younger brother. Tim was just part of that package. Tim had figured it out too, and he was rebelling.”

Ronald approached the difficult situation head-on, engaging in some frank conversations and diligent research that resulted in a new goal for Tim: permanent foster care. For the next two years, Ronald served as Tim’s CASA volunteer. Together they worked with Tim’s caseworker to create a plan for Tim’s successful transition from state care to independent living. Ronald strongly encouraged him to keep his focus on his education, on finishing high school and planning for next steps. To break what Ronald sees as a vicious cycle.

“When you work these cases, what you will see most of the time is a family history of involvement in the state system, a history of drugs, of domestic violence, of lack of education. It just continues from generation from generation,” says Ronald. "What I try to do is to intervene, kid by kid, family by family, and try to stop that revolving door, so that the next generation has a better shot.”

Many times a CASA volunteer may not know if his efforts have made a difference, if he has succeeded in improving the odds for the next generation. But when Ronald recently got a text message from Tim telling him that he had been accepted into nursing school, Ronald knew that he had helped stop at least one revolving door in its tracks.

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Ronald Buie has been a volunteer with the Youth Service Bureau of St. Tammany (LA) CASA program since 2007. In fall 2011 he was named advocate of the year. When presenting the award, his family court judge, Hon. James Lamz, said of Ronald: “He has become a dual role model. Not only is he a positive role model in the life of the children he serves as a CASA, but he also served as a positive role model for other men in the community who can look to his example when deciding whether or not to become a CASA.”

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The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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