Q&A: CASA’s Anne Shenberger

The executive director of this youth advocacy program shares her favorite things about the Main Line.

Anne Shenberger, Philadelphia
Executive Director, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) 

For most of her life, Anne Shenberger has been dedicated to helping kids. Coming from a long line of teachers, it was a natural fit. Since 2009, she’s served as executive director for CASA, which supports area kids as they negotiate their way through the foster-care system, helping them through mandated court appearances and meeting with them frequently. Shenberger earned her master’s degree in social services from Bryn Mawr College and previously served as the regional director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Why kids? I really wanted to do something that would change the world for people who were less fortunate than I was. All my volunteer work growing up had always been with children. 

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Her role at CASA: I’m responsible for making sure we have enough volunteers. Our goal is to serve every child in our service area. In 2014, we served 188 in Delaware County. I consistently work on increasing the level of support that we have from the community. 

From Left: Downtown West Chester, Trader Joe’s in Media

The area’s best-kept secret: Downtown West Chester has that little shopping-restaurant-boutique feeling to it. That’s one of my favorite things to do—to seek out small shops with clothing, crafts or interesting items. 

Favorite place to shop for groceries: The Trader Joe’s in Media. It’s in an old armory. 

From left: Paramour, Girard Point Bridge

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The perfect night out: One of the places where I’ve eaten that I really like is Paramour. It’s attached to the Wayne Hotel. It has a nice bar area. 

Favorite local event: I really enjoy the Main Line Today Food & Wine Affair at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern.

Best chance of getting stuck in traffic: I have two—the Girard Point Bridge before a Phillies game. And on 476, between 95 and the Media exit. 

If she had 30 minutes to herself, she would: Probably meditate. The kind of work I do is very intense. In our field of social work—in child welfare—the work-life balance is really important. 

The most unique things about living here: It’s just such a mix of people, and this whole area enjoys being a grittier former industrial place. From the refineries to the educational and health institutions, it’s sort of both ends of the continuum. 

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How CASA works: Our volunteer advocates are just regular people. We give them 35 hours of training, and we have professional staff with law degrees and social work degrees. They get a court order appointing them, and they go through all of the written material about the child, go out and see the child regularly, check out the living circumstances, and communicate with the professionals. CASA combines the best of volunteerism with an intensive focus on one child. Some people stay with the same case until it closes—and that can be four or five years. 

One of the best parts of her job: To see how long the volunteers stay with these children and how many of the kids are able to achieve some sort of safe, permanent home.  

A story that’s stuck with her: CASA was appointed to two siblings who were elementary-school kids. They’d been placed in what was supposed to be their adoptive home. Our CASA volunteer and professional staff went to this home—the kids were sort of in the background. Something just wasn’t right. Our staff went about convincing others involved in their case that this wasn’t the right choice. The kids were moved to a foster home that our staff members were involved in selecting. Later, the children started to disclose the kinds of abuse they’d received. If we hadn’t been involved, the kids would’ve been adopted by that home and lived in that abusive situation, until something worse happened.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!