Cheryl Kringle has many titles – islander, lawyer, bandmate, and recreational pilot, to name a few. But the title she’s most proud of now is ‘child advocate.’ Entering her third year as the County’s Child Advocate Program Coordinator, Kringle shares why she’s passionate about her work in the court system.
How did you get involved as the Child Advocate Program Coordinator?
“When COVID hit, my company went fully remote, and my day-to-day work slowed. I started to look for work locally where I could use my skills to benefit the public. I’ve been an attorney for 15 years and I wanted to give back. Then this job at the County popped up!”
What is the Child Advocate Program?
Also called the Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program, this service is provided by Superior Court Services.
“In short, the program recruits and supervises volunteers who represent the best interests of children undergoing dependency proceedings in court,” explained Kringle.
The program provides Court-appointed special advocates for children who are victims or alleged victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect. Guardians ad Litem assume no financial, legal, or custodial responsibilities for the child. Their role is to gather and present information and speak on behalf of the dependent child in Court. The Program's goal is to ensure that a child's right to a safe, permanent home is acted on by the Court in a sensitive and expedient manner.
“The idea is that these children have someone looking out for them,” Kringle said.
What makes a good child advocate volunteer?
“You don’t need any previous legal experience, or for that matter, any experience in the courts or local government. Good volunteers are people who care about kids and can be both curious and objective. We look for folks who are compassionate because they’ll be entering a child’s life during a time when their family is experiencing a high level of distress.”
How do interested people get involved in the program?
“We have eight active volunteers and are looking for more! I’d love to include folks with diverse life experiences because every person brings something new to the table.
If someone is interested, they can reach out to our office at email@example.com to learn more. They’ll go through a virtual training (the next one is March 6!) that is sponsored by the County.”
What do you enjoy about the work?
“I love my volunteers. It’s great to work with people who care so deeply about such an important cause – making things better for our children.
Working with kids in dependency is hard. And as a group, we work on coping with the secondary trauma. This program is so supportive and we all practice self-care so that we can continue the work to the best of our abilities. We can’t take care of kids if we don’t take care of ourselves.”
What do you do for fun?
“My dad and I play in an acoustic guitar folk duo called Bourbon Cream. We’ve played music together our whole lives, but the official band is new. I wasn’t something we planned! We played together at a party and caught the bug to perform!”
You’ll find Bourbon Cream strumming along to popular music at local venues including Madrone Cellars in Friday Harbor.
This profile is part of a series spotlighting San Juan County employees, the work they do, and the difference they make. Follow along each month to meet the staff responsible for making the Islands a wonderful place to live, work, and play.