Park Ridge Resident Joins CASA Lake County to Help Fight Child Abuse
Cheryl Koronkowski, of Park Ridge, was sworn in by the Lake County Juvenile Court as a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on March 11, 2021. The new volunteer will be working with CASA Lake County to advocate for local children who have been victims of abuse and neglect.
CASA Lake County has a force of nearly 300 dedicated volunteer advocates. The child victims they serve are all involved in Lake County Juvenile Court proceedings. Most are living in foster care. The induction ceremony included eleven other new CASA volunteers.
"I am excited to become a CASA and engage in such meaningful work," said Ms. Koronkowski. "I am humbled to advocate for a child, and, in doing so, provide much needed support that potentially changes the trajectory for that child's future. The CASA training program was really well done, providing the foundation to make a difference."
"The Covid crisis has completely flipped the script for all child welfare organizations and we need CASA volunteers like never before," said Terri Zenner Greenberg, Executive Director of CASA Lake County. "Before the pandemic, we were already seeing a significant rise in new abuse and neglect cases. But since last March, the number of children entering protective care has skyrocketed."
"Every Lake County agency that works with children in foster care is overwhelmed," continued Ms. Greenberg. "We have nearly 70 children on our waiting list for CASA assignments. We hope to recruit many more dedicated people who can help us with our work. Volunteers with a variety of skills are appreciated. Those who are fluent in Spanish are particularly needed."
CASA volunteers perform a valuable service to more than 550 children in Lake County, who have been taken into state care and are awaiting permanency. The goal of a CASA is to help move kids efficiently through the court system into safe, permanent homes where they will have an opportunity to thrive.
CASA volunteers must successfully complete an in-depth, 40-hour training program. The program prepares them to help ensure that the best interests of children are being served and that juvenile court judges are aware of all issues that impact those interests. In recent months, the training has been conducted online.
Anyone interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County, please contact Debra Lerner-Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.