Six new volunteer advocates join CASA Lake County

Six new volunteer advocates were sworn in Jan. 26 by the Lake County Juvenile Court to help protect foster children from abuse and neglect by advocating for their best interests.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates include Teresa Abrams of Grayslake, Erin Ferguson of Long Grove, Adriana Gomez of Round Lake, Amanda Alpert Knight of Northfield, Laura Smith of Glenview and Natalie Steele of Gurnee.

Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Reginald C. Matthews presided over the online 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 involved in juvenile court proceedings.

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.

The goal of CASAs is to give a 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, providing support and guidance. CASAs build relationships with caregivers and service providers. CASAs inform the court regarding issues that are impacting a child and recommend actions and interventions.

CASAs advocate within the social service and judicial systems to assure that the best interests of each child are served.

The number of child victims of abuse and neglect has grown substantially in Lake County over the last three years, as the aftereffects of the pandemic have added new stress to family security and stability.

To help protect the welfare of these children, CASA Lake County has stepped up its recruiting and training program for new volunteers and now serves nearly 50% more children than just a few years earlier.

"We are fortunate to have the staff and volunteer capacity to serve many more of the hundreds of children who need a CASA right now," said Terri Zenner Greenberg, executive director of CASA Lake County.

Although being a CASA volunteer can have its difficult moments at times, the benefits and the positive impact one can make is unmatched to other volunteer roles. CASA volunteers stand up for a child(ren) who needs them and help contribute to their brighter future.

CASA volunteers must successfully complete an in-depth, 40-hour training program. Training is currently conducted through six-week online classes offered during the daytime or evenings.

Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County can contact Lori Petersen at

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