Ernie worked for 24 years as a caseworker with the El Paso County Department of Human Services. He did not back down from the tough cases, spending 13 years working with victims of incest and 7 years on emergency pager duty. Ernie says he saw horrific things on scene: shaken babies and kids who had been killed by abuse parents.
As a caseworker, Ernie worked with many Court Appointed Special Advocates and was always impressed with their diligence and effectiveness. When he retired from DHS in 2012, he decided to continue his work on behalf of children, but this time as a CASA volunteer.
“The idea of having only one case is heaven for a former caseworker,” said Ernie. In his job with DHS Ernie says he carried as many as 20 cases at a time and felt overwhelmed by paperwork. He was frustrated that he could not give each child the individual attention he or she needed and deserved. “Just like an old fighter…. you can see the opening, but by the time you get there, it’s too late.”
Now on his second case, Ernie relishes the freedom of being a CASA — freedom to concentrate on one case, one child, and to positively impact the life of that child.
Ernie is an old familiar face to the 4th Judicial District judges, but he feels that he is perceived differently now that he is a CASA. “Judges definitely appreciate the work of CASA volunteers; they respect the volunteer role and know we are acting in the child’s best interest,” he explained.
Ernie and his wife are foster/adoptive parents of a grown daughter and now grandparents to two boys. He is a busy family man but plans to continue on as a CASA volunteer as long as he can. He has seen first-hand how badly CASA volunteers are needed.