Seven new volunteer advocates join CASA Lake County

Seven new volunteer advocates were sworn in on May 4 by the Lake County Juvenile Court to help support foster children from abuse and neglect by advocating for their best interests.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates include Sandy Blondell of Grayslake, Brendan Fong of Libertyville, Natalie Lindahl of Lake Villa, Daniel and Kim Mudd of Grayslake, Mirna Magana of Zion and Mayme Ranallo of Lake Barrington.

Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Marnie M. Slavin presided over the induction ceremony at the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Complex Center.

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 advocate in support of 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 work in partnership 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 interests of each child are served.

The number of child victims of abuse and neglect has grown substantially in Lake County over the last couple 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 efforts and advocacy training program for new volunteers and is currently serving almost all 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.

"Volunteers are essential to the work we do for children. Our program is continually in need of caring, dedicated people to make a commitment to a better future for a child," 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.

Over the past three years, the training has been conducted online.

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

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