Baltimore County | Hon. Keith R. Truffer Swears-In 10 Court Appointed Special Advocates for Abused, Neglected Children

Pictured from left to right: Tameeka Brinson, Michael Gabois, Libby Cole, LaTonya Martin, Judge Keith Truffer, Kia Raye, Cecilia Canchanya, Sandy Stewart, Samantha Barney, Ann Merryman, Danny Shemer

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Towson, MD (May 11, 2017) ─ There are currently 568 children in Baltimore County who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Although Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) continue to serve more of these children each year, the need for CASA volunteers continues to grow as more children enter the child welfare and court systems.

Last month, the following advocates joined 121 other Baltimore County CASA volunteers who have passed a thorough screening process and completed 30 hours of training in child development, the court and child welfare systems, interviewing children, and much more:

Samantha Barney of Lutherville-Timonium
Tameeka Brinson of Ellicott City
Cecilia Canchanya of Rogers Forge
Libby Cole of Middle River
Michael Gabois of Lutherville-Timonium
LaTonya Martin of Randallstown
Ann Merryman of Sparks
Kia Jones-Raye of White Marsh
Danny Shemer of Pikesville
Sandy Stewart of Baltimore

CASA volunteers work one-on-one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or her best interests. Essentially, CASA volunteers “speak up” for these children in the court and child welfare systems, making sure they are safe and well-cared for, are getting the services they need and are placed in a permanent, safe, nurturing home as quickly as possible.

“I heard about CASA from a former co-worker who was a CASA in Harford County,” said La’Tonya Anderson, a Policy Analyst for the Social Security Administration (SSA) who was recently assigned to the case of a twelve-year-old boy. “[She] shared stories with me about spending time with her CASA child; I vividly remember hearing about how she helped them receive the services they needed while in care which sounded very rewarding to me!” she added.

These children may also have health, learning, emotional, or psychological challenges, and need special services that the Court should be aware of via the CASA volunteer’s updates.

“Family violence and child neglect are scourges of our society and the causes of so many issues within our communities from crime to substance abuse,” said Shemer, Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore. “As a CASA volunteer, I hope to have a direct and personal impact on some of those problems that affect our children and youth,” he added.

“CASA volunteers don’t require any specific educational or professional background. All they need is compassion, objectivity, and a commitment to children. We’ll train and supervise them to be effective voices in court,” said Jennifer Stine, Executive Director for CASA of Baltimore County. “Our volunteers come from all walks of life, and diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. They are ordinary individuals who rise to the extraordinary by making a difference in the life of a child.”

Anyone interested in volunteer opportunities or supporting CASA of Baltimore County in other ways are encouraged to visit www.casabaltco.org for more information or contact Gwen Farrugia, Advocate Coordinator, at 410-828-0515 or gfarrugia@casabaltco.org.

About CASA of Baltimore County
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) provide individual advocacy for children in foster care who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. CASA is the only program in Maryland that uses trained volunteers to work one-on-one with children, ensuring that each one gets the services needed and achieves permanency in a safe, nurturing home. Today, nearly 600 children in Baltimore County are in foster care. CASA of Baltimore County currently serves about one third of those. Visit www.casabaltco.org or call 410-828-0515 for more information about CASA of Baltimore County. Or, to find a local CASA program in your county, visit www.marylandcasa.org/programs.

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