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Advocate Profile: Susan Barisone

Susan wanted to have 100 children when she grew up. She and her husband compromised at three kids of their own. But she knew she still wanted to help and support more young people. After retiring from her long career as a lawyer, she went looking for an opportunity to make a difference. She attended a CASA informational meeting and realized immediately that this was a chance to impact the life of a child who really needed someone.

Susan is an incredible Advocate for a simple reason – she believes that people can grow and change. She has built very close relationships with the children and families she has served because they trust her and they know she won’t give up on them. She focuses on the positive and looks for ways to build on what is already going well in the family and helps them develop those strengths. She says, “I have seen the tremendous effort some parents have to expend to be with their child, the changes they need to make, and I’ve seen them succeed.” She believes that if we support the family, we support the child.

She is not alone in this belief. The Court has long been in favor of keeping children at home if it is safe to do so. In the past couple years, state law has followed suit, and through the Continuum of Care Reform, it has been made policy to keep children with their parents or extended family members whenever safe and possible. More CASA volunteers are working with families as part of their commitment to supporting and advocating for each child.

Susan says that it can be tough at times. She has seen parents struggling and unable to make the changes needed to keep their children and it’s difficult to watch the impact on the children. She trusts that by being a consistent presence in a child’s life and an important part of the child’s support system, the child will grow and flourish in whatever becomes their permanent home.

Susan may not have had those 100 children she wanted when she was young, but she is making a major difference for many children and youth in Santa Cruz County.