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updated: 11/10/2011 2:31 PM

CASA Lake County seeks more volunteers

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Court Appointed Special Advocates submission

With the increased number of abused children coming into the juvenile court system because of the current economic problems, CASA Lake County seeks more volunteers and plans more training sessions than in the past year.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recruits, trains and manages volunteers to serve as advocates for children who are in the Lake County Juvenile Court system due to abuse and neglect.

Volunteers from Cook and Lake counties serve on one case at a time. They are appointed as officers of the court following their training to provide hands-on assistance during the life of each case. The goal is to find a safe and permanent home for the child as quickly as possible.

CASA Lake County plans to hold seven training sessions this year, compared with five last year. Each training session includes 11 classes of three hours each, plus several hours observing the operation of the juvenile court.

Mary Bird-Parks, coordinator of advocate services, said the CASA goal is to train 84 adults this fiscal year, compared with 68 last year.

CASA has 245 advocate volunteers who represent more than 500 children in the Lake County area. Advocates report spending an average of 10 to 15 hours per month visiting their assigned child, researching the child's issues, providing written court reports to the judge and monitoring the case.

"These volunteers help bring hope into a child's life," Bird-Parks said.

For more information about advocating for an abused child, visit the website at or call the CASA administrative office in Vernon Hills at (847) 383-6260.