State & Local Programs

Peer Coordinator Model

Community of Practice

Join monthly calls for Peer Coordinator practitioners and interested programs. Calls held 2nd Thursday of every month. Contact Paige Beard to be added to the invite list.

The Peer Coordinator Model uses seasoned volunteers to support, coach, and supervise advocate volunteers. The model is the result of a collaborative effort between National CASA and several CASA programs. It is useful for  all CASA/GAL programs—big and small, urban and rural, government run and nonprofit—and is supported by National CASA.

The purpose of this model is:

  • To create a fluid system of coaching and support for advocates 
  • To strengthen connections to the program, rather than to its people
  • To expand the shared knowledge base
  • To build solid relationships between all staff, paid and unpaid
  • To provide a CASA advocate for every child in care

The goal of the Peer Coordinator Model is to serve more children without having to equally increase staff and budget. It is about working smarter, not harder, and about increasing retention by building stronger relationships between all of the organization members: paid staff, unpaid staff and advocates.  

Please note: The Peer Coordinator Model places strong emphasis on support of and connection with volunteers. As such, the coaching, motivation, and leadership Moving Forward for Children training modules will be valuable to all CASA/GAL programs.

Many state and local CASA organizations have provided assistance and information. We thank CASA of Maricopa County (AZ), CASA of Contra Costa County (CA), Child Advocates, Inc. in Houston, and CASA of Lane County (OR) for their commitment and contributions.

Key Considerations and Activities

As you begin to explore the model of peer coordination ensure that your program has sought legal counsel so the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and any state laws can be considered.   We also recommend you consult your state CASA/GAL office to see if there are other programs exploring the model as well as if the state office knows of any state laws or unique circumstances that might prohibit or discourage use of the model.

Your program staff and board should engage in a review of insurance considerations, including workers compensation, to explore implications of such a model; participate in learning opportunities about the model; and undergo an organizational assessment to determine need and readiness, including considerations around budget, training, recruitment, staffing and organizational culture. Following this level of exploration you should develop a written plan and time line for implementation of the model.

Fully investigating these topics while you are in the exploration phase of the model will help avoid potential setbacks after implementation. 

The National CASA standards include requirements for the exploration and implementation of the peer coordinator model or any model of volunteer coordination of advocates. Please review Standard 6.G.6. and 7 for the current requirements.

Peer Coordinator Manual

Download the Peer Coordinator Model: A Guide to Transition (1.66 MB PDF, CASA of Lane County, OR).

Download resources found in the manual:

Training Materials

Moving Forward for Children Training Modules: Lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations and handouts for you to customize and use to increase staff expertise in supporting volunteers through strong leadership, coaching and motivation.

National CASA Podcasts:

  • The Peer Coordinator Model - Program Experience, CASA of Lane County, Springfield, OR

Megan Shultz from CASA of Lane County in Springfield, OR, offers insight into the process including lessons learned and tips that she hopes will be helpful to other CASA programs considering this model.

Laurie Laughlin from Maricopa County CASA in Phoenix, AZ, discusses the challenges she has experienced and the success that she has seen, especially with volunteer retention.  

Additional Training:

Local Program Implementation Documents

The list below includes links to examples of supporting documents for implementation of the peer coordinator model. These sample documents are from various CASA/GAL programs. Thank you to the programs that shared examples of their work.

The sample documents are not meant to be templates for simple copying. If you plan to utilize any of these documents for your program, be certain to review the document closely and adapt or modify as appropriate. Be sure to get approval from your governing body before implementing any new policies or procedures.  

Documents for use by the organization:

Documents for use by all program staff:

Documents for use by peer coordinators:

Documents for use by CASA volunteers:

Documents for use by senior program coordinators:

Evaluation tools for use by programs:

Cisco Video on Organizational Change and Leadership Ladder

Cisco Video: This is a short video about a news team that has to undergo a big shift in structure. Initially no one is pleased about the change, but the video follows some key steps in transition and it ends well.

Watch the Cisco video

The Leadership Ladder: Fostering Volunteer Engagement and Leadership at New York Cares: What motivates people to volunteer? What keeps them coming back? Are there ways to move volunteers from participating episodically to becoming fully engaged community leaders? And is there a relationship between volunteering and other forms of civic engagement? 

Download the New York Cares report from their website.

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