Sep 28 2022

Meet Volunteer Advocate Mike Lapp

When his work in the semi-conductor industry wound down, Mike Lapp found himself with more free time. He enjoyed working on old cars and biking, but he had also noticed the need for support for children within the child welfare system, and thought more help was needed. “Then, I learned CASA existed,” he said.

“I met with the teen every month, and I could see that it was a good thing for them,” Mike said. 

Throughout his six years as a volunteer, the same thorough approach and attention to detail required for his mechanical work has come in handy with his approach to volunteering. Mike has navigated a series of challenging cases that have involved sexual abuse, neglect, drugs, substance use, and juvenile court with persistence and focus on the best outcomes. Despite the adversarial relationships that can arise in a case, Mike works to build a rapport with all parties involved.

“I keep in mind that CPS case workers have 20-30 cases at one time, and I have one,” he said.

In one of those cases, he helped a teen who’d experienced family and behavioral challenges graduate from high school despite the odds being against them. The teen had come into care as they were about to age out of the system, and with no parents in the picture and having recently been removed from their foster home, they struggled through multiple placements. Mike supported the teen through these, including one placement which helped them become more independent.

“I was able to advocate for them to stay there, and they ended up graduating from high school during that stay,” Mike said. “The placement was a gift – a healthy connection.”

Mike's support also helped them gain the skills they needed to find a job.

“I met with them every month, and I could see that it was a good thing,” Mike said. 

Although some of Mike’s cases have ended in a steady job or successful adoption, he has weathered the setbacks that occur during all of them with patience and consistency.

“It’s humbling,” he said. “I keep reminding myself that each case is a learning experience for the next.”

“It’s humbling,” he said. “I keep reminding myself that each case is a learning experience for the next.”

His motivations to continue searching for safe and permanent homes and connections for children are often inspired by the other team members on the case with him. “My opinion of humanity is higher thanks to the dedication that I see from the CASA supervisors I’ve had, CPS workers, the attorneys I work with, the teams,” Mike said. “I’ve thought, ‘I’ve never worked as hard as these people.’”

Even with the hardworking teams around him, Mike knows how important his consistent presence is in kids’ lives. “In situations where there is no structure, and kids can’t rely on anyone else, I always want to make sure I do what I say I will, because I know I might be the only one in their life that does.”

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