Eight new volunteer advocates join CASA Lake County
Eight new volunteer advocates were sworn in on March 16 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 Shannon Franklin of Island Lake, Ashley Hessing of Glenview, Stevee Libert of Long Grove, Rouha Minnerly and Lee Minnerly of Lincolnshire, Rachel Schulman of Highland Park, Sarah Stokes of Lindenhurst and Tim Zeller of Gurnee.
Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Reginald C. Matthews presided over the online induction ceremony.
The new CASAs join a force of more than 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. 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 year, 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 efforts and advocacy training program for new volunteers and is currently serving all of the children in foster care in Lake County.
Currently, Lake County's CASA volunteers serve more children than any other CASA program in the state of Illinois.
"We are fortunate to have the staff and volunteer capacity to serve nearly all of the Lake County children who need a CASA right now," said Terri Zenner Greenberg, executive director of CASA Lake County.
CASA volunteers must successfully complete an in-depth, 40-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.
Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County can contact Lori Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.