Public Profile: Dan Mata, Lead Case Supervisor for CASA of Jackson County
Rogue Valley Messenger: What do you do with the organization?
Dan Mata: Previously I was a CASA Volunteer for a year and I was appointed as an advocate to speak about the best interest of our children involved with DHS/CW. Currently I am the Lead Case Supervisor for CASA of Jackson County, to which includes many duties. Those duties include, but are not limited to supervising volunteers and ensuring that they are appropriately advocating for our children, supporting and assisting the Deputy Director with program development and on-going training.
RVM: How did you find yourself in this position? What led you here?
DM: Since I was kid I knew I would always end up in a career where I would be working with kids in/around our “systems.” I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I resided in an area where I was exposed to a lot of crime, drugs, gangs and violence. That included my very own household, my biological father was very abusive mentally and physically, and both my parents were heroin addicts. My mom mostly because of the domestic abuse. I knew as a child these things were wrong so I wanted to grow up different than that. Nearly 38 years shortened; I graduated high school, served in Marine Corps Infantry for 8 years, and got my college degree in Criminal Justice. Once I completed my degree I sought volunteerism/employment where I could show these children there is a way out of this viscous cycle and here is living proof.
RVM: What’s the best part about the job?
DM: The best part of this job is truly working with all of our CASA Volunteers, the amount of hard work and dedication that these folks put into our children is overwhelmingly beautiful. We have a volunteer who has dedicated himself to this organization since it was first brought to light in Jackson County 28 years ago. We have volunteers who will drive countless hours to go visit their court appointed child; not because they have to, but because they want to. These volunteers do not give up on these children, and they take pride in their casework.
RVM: How many children have you helped so far?
DM: As a volunteer I was assigned to 3 cases that advocated for 7 children. Now as a Case Supervisor I manage a caseload of 43 CASAs that are assigned to 84 children. Overall as a team we are currently actively serving 474 children and waiting to serve 400 more.
RVM: What’s the worst case you’ve seen that ended positively?
DM: We had a family that got involved with DHS/CW because of allegations of substance abuse and neglect that lead to the death of a child. The family was very anti-government, did not believe in our education system; therefore, did not allow their children to attend school. The children were on a very low IQ level, isolated and secluded… because of the parent’s behaviors. We had two volunteers who were strangers to each other that agreed to take on this large family and see if they could help in any positive way. Case closure came quick for this family when these CASAs got involved, the children attend school regularly and the family will have forever contact with these two loving, caring, amazing volunteers.
RVM: What’s the most heart-warming or bone-chilling experience you’ve had while working with CASA?
DM: We had a CASA who literally saved a child’s life. And this child expressed her gratitude on how much she appreciated this CASA. This CASA had been the one and only consistent person in her life, and she wanted him to come and tell her life story before he passed away. His name and legacy will forever continue with CASA and this little girl’s life.