Court swears in 15 new CASA volunteers
Fifteen new volunteers were sworn in on Nov. 18 by the Lake County Juvenile Court to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates.
The new volunteers have been trained by CASA Lake County to support, protect and advocate for children who have been victims of neglect, child abuse and domestic violence. Some of these children remain in their homes, but most are placed in foster care settings.
The new volunteer CASAs include: Tayylor Dorsey and Randy Thompson of Grayslake; Gretchen Schiltz and Cindy Dobbins of Deerfield; Kelley Reinfelds of Libertyville; Emma Ross of Lake Forest; Kathleen Rosenberg of Vernon Hills; Iryna Pantelyuk of Gurnee; Linda Schnuer of Buffalo Grove; Melissa Santoyo of Mundelein; Anne Loshbough of Highland Park; Diane Lefebvre of Lincolnshire; Kate Solis Silva of Des Plaines; Andrea Farrell of Palatine; and Bridget Bourbon of Chicago. Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher B. Morozin presided.
The number of child victims of abuse and neglect has grown substantially in Lake County in recent years, and even more so during the pandemic. Even with the new volunteers, there are more than 30 children on CASA Lake County's waiting list, each in need of a CASA of their own.
To help protect the welfare of these children and broaden child advocacy outreach, CASA Lake County has stepped up its recruiting efforts and 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 all very much appreciated," Zenner Greenberg added. "We'd love to see more men joining us in our work and serving as role models. More multilingual volunteers are needed as well to better serve our community."
Anyone interested in making a real difference in a child's life is urged to contact CASA today to apply. Volunteers must successfully complete an in-depth, 40-hour training program that prepares them for the work they will be doing for the children and the court. Over the past year, the training has been conducted online.
The new volunteers join a force of nearly 300 dedicated advocates working with CASA Lake County. CASA volunteers build long-term, caring relationships with the children in their assigned cases, while coordinating important information with caregivers and service providers.
Most notably, they report to the court regarding health, education and family issues, recommending actions and interventions that serve each child's unmet needs.
While caseworkers and lawyers may rotate in and out of a child's legal case, a CASA remains committed to the child as long as the case goes on. The goal of a CASA is to give voice to each child's unique situation and to make sure that the best interests of each child are being met.
CASAs seek to assure that each child finds a safe, secure, permanent home in which they can thrive.
Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County, a nonprofit 5013C organization based in Vernon Hills, can contact Lori Petersen at email@example.com or visit www.casalakecounty.com/menus/volunteer and submit a request to volunteer.