Pictured above: CASA Lake County recently swore in 12 Court Appointed Special Advocates. Front row: Nina Sorensen (Libertyville),Cecilia Milotti (Winnetka),Viola Stamm (Morton Grove), Shelley Spathis (Buffalo Grove), CASA trainer, Debra Lerner-Schmidt. Back Row: Kristin Leonard (Antioch), Brian Jakob (Kenosha), Alya Smolsky (Buffalo Grove), Julia Foster (Lincolnshire), Judge Sarah Lessman, Judge Valerie Ceckowski, Marla Hindin (Buffalo Grove), Jane Lindstrom (Palatine), Lee Galarce (Lake Zurich).
Credit: Court Appointed Special Advocates Lake County press release
With the recent swearing in of 12 Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA Lake County reports they now have 297 advocates, which a record number. They are currently serving 564 abused and neglected children living in Lake County.
However, more volunteers are needed.
“There are just over 60 children who are still waiting for a CASA,” said Terri Zenner Greenberg, executive director of the Vernon Hills non-profit advocacy program, now in its 20th year. “We are fighting tirelessly to build our volunteer family, so that someday every at-risk child living in our community will have a CASA fighting for their best interests."
CASA Lake County is a program that recruits, trains and supervises compassionate advocates who ensure that these children don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. They fight to get them the medical, educational and mental services they need to survive.
Volunteers receive 40 hours of training before they are assigned a case. The program enjoys a 95 percent retention rate and advocates stay with the child until the case closes or the child is placed in a safe, permanent, loving home.
About a third of the CASA Lake County advocates come from counties adjacent to — or near — Lake County. The latest twelve person Class of CASA University graduates reside in three counties and two states.
Greenberg said to her knowledge, CASA volunteers are the only ones in the United States where the volunteers actually become appointed by the court.