CASA Lake County names new advocates
Nine new volunteer advocates were sworn in on July 22 by the Lake County Juvenile Court to advocate for children in the foster care system.
The advocates include Sharon Thompson of Lake Zurich, Mary Van Trieste of Grayslake, Syed Kashif of Vernon Hills, Kathy Letourneau of Lake Forest, Carolyn Brooks of Highwood, A.J. Johnson of Lake Villa, Mary Van Trieste of Grayslake, Lori Burns of Libertyville, Donna Tickman of Wheeling, and Diane Covert of Johnsburg.
A 10th new advocate, Riley Cummings of Hanover Park, was not present for the induction ceremony. Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher Morozin presided.
The number of child victims of abuse and neglect has grown substantially in Lake County over the past two years. To help protect the welfare of these children, CASA Lake County has stepped up its recruiting efforts and advocacy training program for new volunteers.
"We are searching for dedicated volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates for vulnerable children," said Terri Zenner-Greenberg, executive director of CASA Lake County.
"Since the start of the pandemic, the number of Lake County children entering protective care has skyrocketed. At the same time, a number of volunteers have had to step back because of the impact of COVID-19 on their own lives.
"Volunteers with a variety of skills and backgrounds are appreciated," Zenner-Greenberg said. "We'd love to see more men joining us. And anyone who is fluent in Spanish is particularly needed."
The new CASAs join a force of nearly 300 volunteer advocates who work with CASA Lake County, a nonprofit based in Vernon Hills. CASAs support and advocate for children involved in juvenile court proceedings in a variety of ways.
CASAs work to build caring, long-term relationships with the children in their assigned cases. CASAs build relationships and share recommendations with caregivers and service providers. CASAs also report to the court regarding health, education and family issues affecting the children for whom they advocate.
And CASAs recommend actions and interventions, as needed.
The goal of a CASA is to give voice to each child's unique needs and to make sure that the best interests of each child are being met. CASAs work to assure that each child exits foster care into a safe, permanent home in which they can thrive.
CASA volunteers must successfully complete an in-depth, 40-hour training program. Over the past year, the training has been conducted online.
Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County can contact Lori Petersen at email@example.com.
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