Ten new volunteers join CASA Lake County to advocate for the best interest of children in foster care

Ten new volunteers completed their training to become Court Appointed Special Advocates and help advocate for the best interest of children in foster care. Volunteers and their families and friends attended the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday May 16, hosted by the Lake County Juvenile Court. The new Court Appointed Special Advocates include Yamiley Jean-Simon of Barrington; Karina Costa Bisson of Vernon Hills; Judy Swartz and Mollie Brundage Suhonen of Lake Forest; Pam Grad of Highland Park; Deeherling Castillo of Mundelein; Flavia Orscheln of Antioch; Courtney Murray of Gurnee; JoAnne Lowe of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin; and Betsy Steele of Glencoe. Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Reginald C. Mathews presided over the induction ceremony.

The new CASAs join a force of nearly 300 volunteer advocates who work with CASA Lake County, a nonprofit based in Vernon Hills. The volunteers support and advocate for children who have endured abuse or neglect in Lake County. CASA’s goal is to give voice to children and their unique needs, so that they can ultimately have a safe and permanent home.

CASAs build caring, long-term relationships with each child in their assigned cases, as well as with caregivers and service providers. CASAs inform the court regarding issues that are affecting a child and recommend actions and interventions. CASAs advocate within the social service and judicial systems to ensure that the best interest of each child is served.

“CASA Lake County is always recruiting more volunteers, especially volunteers who are people of color, male or bilingual – we know that representation matters and there is something special about a child having an advocate that understands them and their culture” said Terri Zenner Greenberg, executive director of CASA Lake County.

Although being a CASA volunteer can have its challenges, the benefits and the positive impact one can have in this role is profound. CASA volunteers stand up for the children who need them and help contribute to a brighter future. Because of the unique opportunity to positively affect the trajectory of a child’s life, CASA volunteers report it to be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience.

CASA volunteers must successfully complete an in-depth, 30-hour training program. This includes specialized training for in-home visitation; increased communication and referrals for family resources; and making recommendations to the court about a child’s best interests related to physical and mental health, education, family placement and more. Training is conducted in a hybrid format, with a few classes being held at the CASA office in Vernon Hills and the rest being held virtually.

Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County can visit to learn more or contact Lori Petersen at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.