Seven New Volunteer Advocates Join CASA Lake County to Support Children Who Have Faced Abuse and Neglect
Seven new volunteer advocates were sworn in July 20 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 Caitlin Brennan of Waukegan, Mechelle Casey of Lindenhurst, Tim Hackl of Buffalo Grove, Adina Lapadat of Skokie, Rosina Mahabeer of Mundelein, Emily Polelle of Round Lake, and Daniel Silver of Round Lake Beach. Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Reginald C. Matthews presided over the 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 who have endured abuse or neglect in Lake County. The goal of CASAs is to give a voice to children and their unique needs so 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 impacting a child and recommend actions and interventions. CASAs advocate within the social service and judicial systems to assure that the best interest of each child is served.
Currently, Lake County's CASA volunteers serve more than 500 children.
"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, and we hope to soon add enough volunteers for every child on our waiting list for services," 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 make 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 impact 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, 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 few years, the training has been conducted online.
Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County can contact Lori Petersen at email@example.com.