Lake County Judge Valerie Boettle Ceckowski swore in 10 people as Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteers for abused and neglected children.
Family and friends gathered in the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Justice Complex near Vernon Hills, on May 19, to watch the volunteers take an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of children in the Lake County courts.
The newly appointed CASA volunteers join 330 other dedicated community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the county's juvenile dependency court system. As officers of the court, they ensure the children's needs are recognized and best interests are considered in the courtroom and in the community.
CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the child regularly and are authorized to interview people in the child's life, such as social workers, attorneys and teachers. They attend court hearings with the child and report their findings to the judge.
"Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home," said Terri Zenner Greenberg, director of CASA Lake County. "The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child's life."
With more children waiting for a CASA volunteer, many more advocates are still needed. There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 25 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 30 hours of training.
The next advocate training session for Lake County begins Aug. 22. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, contact Suzanne Cash at (847) 383-6260, ext. 205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CASA Lake County is a member of the National CASA Association, a network of more than 900 CASA programs serving children in 49 states and Washington, D.C.