Spark of Inspiration
Cassie discovered her passion for home visiting as a college student preparing for a theater production of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” As part of the pre-production process, the director organized a workshop with the renowned childbirth educator and author Penny Simkin to help students perform their roles authentically. The director’s Saturday workshop might otherwise have been a footnote in Cassie’s career, but instead, it sparked inspiration and changed her life’s course. Cassie was captivated to learn about the multifaceted roles doulas and midwives play and how meaningful it felt to support the birthing process during such a transformative time in people’s lives.
Cassie pursued a career in midwifery as soon as she graduated college.
Partnering with Families
After completing her training as a midwife and practicing as a doula, Cassie furthered her passion for working with families as a home visitor with Parents as Teachers, and spending many years as a family resources coordinator, supporting the parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays.
Cassie’s career continued to flourish as a Parents as Teacher home visitor working with tribal families across the South Sound region. Her love for partnering with tribal families deepened her insight into the essential roles that language, culture and community norms play in early childhood development. Connecting with families in this capacity was a life-changing experience and led to many years of collaboration and support for tribal nations in Washington state.
Cassie noted how the support from a home visitor, trusting relationships, and access to resources are instrumental for new parents in making those first few years more manageable. “People with new babies are busy trying to survive and reinvent themselves; it can be hard to advocate for yourself. The demands of being a parent are constantly changing, personal growth is hard work and having someone there to support you along the way is critical.” As a single parent raising a child diagnosed with epilepsy and intellectual disabilities, Cassie experienced firsthand how incredibly challenging and complex it can be to care for a young child.
Cassie holding her 2-month-old daughter, Ash (2001)
While Cassie’s firsthand experiences as a parent and home visitor fueled her passion for removing barriers for parents, years of evidence of the impact of home visiting solidified her belief in its role in positively influencing lifelong outcomes for children and their families.
“Change is a constant in home visiting work. Infants and toddlers grow and change rapidly; parents have to stretch and grow to support their ever-changing children. Home visitors are continually learning new skills, making adjustments and fine-tuning their support of families. In turn, home visiting supervisors are continuously striving to change and improve the quality of support provided to the families they serve.”
Parallel Process and Positive Change
Cassie’s accomplished career supporting families includes doula, home visitor, home visiting program supervisor, Parents as Teachers state lead — and her current role at the systems-level, where she influences meaningful outcomes for children and their families across Washington state.
Because of these experiences, she has a unique ability to understand the implications and effects of program and policy change, allowing her to advocate for children and families alongside partners at multiple levels.