Five Questions with Elizabeth Berris, Attorney-Guardian Ad Litem, Superior Court

Elizabeth Berris1. What is your role with King County? I am an Attorney-Guardian Ad Litem with the King County Superior Court Dependency CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program. I complete independent investigations and advocacy for the children’s best interests in cases where parents have been accused by Child Protective Services of abusing or neglecting them.

2. What is a typical day like for you? I am always on the go! I drive all over the county and beyond to meet with children, their parents, their caretakers, and then also to attend court hearings on my caseload in all three Superior Court locations. For instance, tomorrow my day will start out visiting a 3-year-old boy in Puyallup at his relative caretaker’s home. Next, I’ll go to a day care center in Tacoma to observe a 4-year-old child and then head off to an elementary school in Federal Way to meet with a 9- and an 11-year-old and their respective teachers. When those interviews are finished, I’ll need to meet a father at his new home in Kent, then to Department of Social and Health Services for a family team decision-making meeting, and I will finish my day by attending a child’s Individualized Education Program (meeting at an elementary school in the White Center neighborhood).

3. What is the biggest challenge in your job? The most difficult part of my job is responding when a child asks me why their parent doesn’t visit.

4. What aspect of your work is most fulfilling? Being able to recommend that a child be reunified with his or her parents after the parents have successfully addressed the issues that caused their child to be removed from their care.

5.  What are you doing for the County’s Healthy Incentives employee program in 2015? Text for Well-Being. I love taking my 1-year-old daughter and 15-year-old black lab dog for walks, hiking, and gardening. I also text for Well Being because it fits with my on-the-go lifestyle!

(This article first appeared in the June 2015 edition of The Superior Court / DJA Newsletter)