New Volunteer Advocates Join CASA Lake County to Fight Child Abuse
Seven new volunteer advocates were sworn in on July 28, 2022, 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 (CASAs) include Brian Harbison, of Mundelein; Lisa Labaschin, of Riverwoods; Lori Schur, of Buffalo Grove; Rebecca Labbe, of Northbrook; Kamini Rawat, of Chicago; Ashley McGinn, of Des Plaines; and a seventh volunteer unavailable for the swearing-in photo. Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Reginald C. Matthews presided over the online induction ceremony.
The new CASAs join a force of nearly 300 volunteer advocates who work with CASA Lake County, a non-profit based in Vernon Hills. The volunteers support and advocate for children involved in juvenile court proceedings. 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. The goal of CASAs is to give voice to children and 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 build relationships 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 interests of each child are served.
The number of child victims of abuse and neglect has grown substantially in Lake County over the last year, as the after-effects of the pandemic has 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.
"We need CASA volunteers now more than ever," 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 then, the number of children entering protective care has skyrocketed. Last year, our volunteers and program staff served a record of 733 children. We have over 20 children on our waiting list for CASA volunteer assignments. We hope to recruit 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 must successfully complete an in-depth, 40-hour training program. Over the past two years, the training has been conducted online.
Any adult interested in volunteering with CASA Lake County, please contact Lori Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ATTACHED PHOTO: New CASA Lake County volunteers are sworn in online by Nineteenth Circuit Court Judge Reginald C. Matthews on July 28, 2022.