What We Have
We have a dedicated team of Board members, Staff, and over sixty Volunteers currently working to serve hundreds of children in our community. We have relationships with Foster families, Judges, Attorneys, Social Workers, the Department of Health and Welfare, Law Enforcement officers, community service providers, and most importantly, children.
We have a remarkable Staff who train, coordinate, and assist our Volunteers through all stages of their cases, and who energize our Volunteers with their remarkable positivity and passion for what they do. Our Staff diligently organizes reports, cases, and supplies. All of our Staff assist the needs of our Volunteers, whether it be making a visit, attending court, accompanying a Volunteer, aiding in report writing, or just being there as a sounding board and friend. Our fabulous Board members help in raising community awareness, obtaining funding, and making sure our program legally and ethically complies with all codes of conduct and Federal and State laws.
We have plans to grow our capacity, increase public knowledge, aid our volunteers with more efficient organizational tools, advertising campaigns, and fundraising events. We have the passion, the focus, and the commitment to, one day, even better fulfill the needs of the children in our community who have been, are, and will be taken into protective custody.
Frequently Asked Questions About Our Program
“What should I know about the program?”
The Third District Guardian ad Litem program is part of Idaho’s network of seven CASA Programs (Court Appointed Special Advocates). We launched November, 2016 after being joined with 4th district (including Ada county) for nearly 20 years. We select, train, and guide volunteer Guardians to represent, in Idaho’s Courts, children who have been removed from their family homes due to concerns about abuse or neglect.
“How many children does your organization represent?’
In 2017, we represented 664 children, nearly 300 cases, for these counties. In 2018, we are expecting the number we represent, and the number of children coming into care, to both increase.
“What counties make up the 3rd District?”
Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington.
“How was this program founded?”
During 1977, Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup was faced with making decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children with only the information provided by the state Child Protective Services. Soukup formulated the idea that volunteers could be dedicated to a case and speak for children’s best interests. Fifty volunteers responded to his idea, which started a movement that provides better representation for abused and neglected children throughout the United States.
“How is this program funded?”
We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded primarily through private donations. However, in the State of Idaho, there is a mandate for every child in Protective Custody to receive a Guardian ad Litem if under the age of 12. Therefore the 7 CASA/GAL programs in Idaho do receive a collective grant from the State yearly that is split between the 7 districts based on the number of volunteers each program has.
“How many staff does the program have?”
We currently employ four staff personnel, and are hoping to add to our team shortly.
“What do your staff members do?”
Currently, we have two full-time Advocate Coordinators who manage and coordinate between our cases and our volunteers. We also have a Volunteer and Community Outreach Manager, and an Executive Director of the program.
“Is your program needing to grow?”
YES! With the number of children in care far outweighing our current Volunteer capacity, more Guardians are sorely needed. The six counties we represent currently house the second largest number of children in protective custody in the state; and yet, the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program’s Volunteer capacity can only handle about 30% of all cases that come in.
Also, with our limited funding, we only have enough money for the staff we currently have. In order to accept more volunteers, we need more staff to offer them training, coordination, and help throughout their case. And so, we need to increase our funding in order to grow our program to the capacity our communities need.
Board of Directors
Third District Guardian ad Litem’s main resource is its people. Our fabulous Board members help in raising community awareness, obtaining funding and making sure our program legally and ethically complies with all codes of conduct and Federal and State laws. Our team brings a breadth of experience in Canyon County Child Protection cases that is unparalleled and exceptional.
Director - Board of Directors
Shelly Schwers is a 1991 graduate of Pacific University with a degree in Philosophy and Business Management. She has been a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem since 2015, and has found it to be a rewarding experience on many levels. With a background of fundraising and leadership roles in various nonprofits over the years including Race for the Cure Boise, PTO and West Valley Little League, Shelly hopes to bring some energy and direction to the fundraising side of the board.
Rachel Cossel, BS
Rachel Cossel is a Business Development Officer for Idaho Central Credit Union. She is a graduate of Northwest Nazarene University with a degree in Communication Science. She is also currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communication from Northeastern University. Her husband Johnathon is a teacher and together they have two young boys, James and Christopher. She has been involved in her communities for years through local chamber of commerce, service clubs, and multiple non-profit groups. She is excited for Third District Guardian ad Litem Program to be the newest of her passions. She believes our children are our future and hopes to help those most vulnerable in our community.
Patrick Nauman, AAS
Patrick Nauman is a make-it work, all-american entrepreneur. Starting out in the hospitality business where he became a manager and eventual director of Hotel operations. Patrick now owns the successful Weiser Classic Candy in Weiser, Idaho. Patrick is a huge supporter of the community and loves to see it grow and thrive in a way that’s both positive and progressive. He was first introduced to the Guardian ad Litem/CASA Program last year, and has since caught the bug and is eager to use his experience and connections to bring greater safety and security to the vulnerable children in his and other communities.
Lisa is one of our newest Board Members. She recently moved from California to our beautiful Idaho and works from home as a Book-Keeper. Being apart of the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program is fulfilling a desire she’s had since High School, to help under-privileged children living in our own communities. Lisa is excited to add any contribution to this remarkable program and is looking forward to her term here on the team.
Jan Arrowsmith, MBA, RRT
Jan Arrasmith is currently the Respiratory Therapy Program Director at Stevens-Henager College. She is a native Idahoan farm girl who has worked as a respiratory therapist for several years. She received a BS Degree in Respiratory Therapy from Boise State University and then went on to receive a MBA from Independence University. Jan has a passion for giving service and a deep appreciation for nonprofit organizations. She has volunteered with American Lung Association, Idaho Society of Respiratory Care Board, and American Association of Respiratory Care. She is excited for the opportunity to help children in need with Guardian ad Litem. When Jan is not working or volunteering, she enjoys traveling with her high school sweetheart and two children, attending athletic events, coaching volleyball, and shopping.
Christina Walker, LMSW
Christina Walker, LMSW is the Executive Director of the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program. In addition to dedicating herself to helping communities, families, and children, she is devoted to her silly, sassy, smart teenage twins. She has worked as a Parent Advocate and Social Worker, as well as being a mentor, foster parent, and Guardian ad Litem in two other districts. She specializes in working with children and families, as well as victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition to her work with the Third District, she is also a Group Facilitator at the Nampa Family Justice Center. Helping individuals and families live a strong and healthy life is her true passion. She is paramount in the structuring and encouraging all Volunteers, and Staff in this program. She is a powerful voice of good and is monumental in pushing this good work along.
Chase is the newest staff member for the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program. Chase is a College of Western Idaho graduate and is pursuing his bachelors at the College of Idaho. He will be taking a hiatus from school to focus on his new job and the remarkable opportunity to serve his community and develop community connections. Having volunteered for the program for about two months before being hired on, Chase is very passionate about non-profit work and helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. He is an enthusiastic, ambitious, creative member of the Third District team and thoroughly enjoys the service he is providing for his community.
He also buys socks when he’s depressed.
Elisa is a coordinator for the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program, and comes to us with prior nonprofit, and coordinating experience. Her experience comes from a variety of jobs, whether it was through the hospital systems, or court ordered programming where she facilitated parenting classes. Elisa is bright, highly-motivated, and able to connect well with all people from all backgrounds. She is eager to get cases under her belt and get to know the community and children she will be helping represent. Elisa’s ultimate goal is to be the Program Manager of a non-profit just like Third District Guardian ad Litem Program
Volunteer and Community Outreach Managermerrinp@3rddistrictguardian.org
Merrin has been involved in this program since it’s beginning. She volunteered for two years with Family Advocates and continued on when the program became the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program. Merrin’s passion for this work comes from her personal experience of having two little brothers adopted out of foster care. She uses her experiences to motivate her to help as many children in Protective Custody as she can. Merrin will continue to use her experience to help educate the community on this remarkable program and inspire them to join its mission to advocate for neglected and abused children.