CASA of Baltimore County Celebrates 15 Years of Service to Children
TOWSON – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Baltimore County hosted a fifteen-year anniversary celebration on April 14, 2016, to celebrate their service to more than 600 children since their first class of volunteers was trained in 2001.
“In 2000, a group of Baltimore County citizens desiring to serve abused and neglected children coordinated efforts to start CASA of Baltimore County,” said Jennifer Stine, Executive Director for the organization. “The first class of volunteers was trained in 2001; it was because of their dedication to the children and inspiration to the community that our program has been able to grow.”
Honored at the event was Kathleen Gallogly Cox, Head of the Juvenile Court in Baltimore County from 2002 through 2013 and currently the Circuit Administrative Judge for the Third Judicial Circuit of Baltimore County. Judge Cox has been an essential support and partner for CASA of Baltimore County, providing guidance, referring children to the program, and conducting Swearing-In Ceremonies for the volunteers.
“For 15 years, CASA volunteers have contributed generously of their time, insights and talents to improve the lives of children in foster care in Baltimore County,” said Gallogly Cox. “These volunteers are a consistent, positive resource in the lives of the children they assist, and the bonds they form often outlast the child’s stay in foster care… the Court is extremely grateful for the insights and advocacy the CASA volunteers contribute, which assist the court in reaching decisions affecting vulnerable children.”
A CASA volunteer is a court appointed, trained, and committed adult who will represent and advocate for a child’s best interest in the child protection system. CASA volunteers are 21 years and older and will go through careful screening and receive 30-40 hours of training before being assigned to children.
“The primary responsibility of our volunteers is to serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the court, getting to know the child while gathering information from any parties relevant in the child’s life,” said Stine. “They then make recommendations to the court to help the judge overseeing the case to decide what is in the child’s best interests.”
Since opening in 2001, CASA of Baltimore County has trained more than 600 volunteers who have worked to improve the futures of the region’s children and youth. Today, 175 volunteer advocates serve roughly one third of the 600 abused and neglected children who are in foster care in Baltimore County each year.
“Baltimore County’s CASA program has come a long way in the past 15 years, but our work is not done until each and every child in need of a CASA volunteer has one,” said Stine. “We are extremely thankful for all of our volunteers, old and new, and it is our hope that more community members will step forward and join us in this mission,” she added.
The next advocate training session for CASA of Baltimore County begins May 10, 2016. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact Gwen Farrugia at email@example.com or 410-828-0515.
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