Earlier in April, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Baltimore County celebrated 15 years’ worth of bringing service to the area’s abused and neglected foster care children. CASA of Baltimore County began operations in 2001 and has provided helping hands to over 600 children since. Several of the CASA volunteers that were sworn into service 15 years ago were present at an April 14 event celebrating their service to the cause, according to a release issued by CASA of Baltimore County.
Regarding the landmark 15 years of service, Executive Director for CASA of Baltimore County, Jennifer Stine, remarked “In 2000, a group of Baltimore County citizens desiring to serve abused and neglected children coordinated efforts to start CASA of Baltimore County. 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.”
Also honored at the April 14 event for her commitment, guidance, partnership and essential support to the CASA program was the Honorable Judge Kathleen Gallogly Cox who was credited with referring abused and neglected children to the program. Cox also oversees the swearing-in of new volunteers.
Cox was quoted in the release as saying “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.” She added that “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.”
CASA volunteers are heralded as being committed adults, 21 years and older, who represent abused and neglected kids in foster care and advocate for those children’s best interests. Candidates undergo a rigid screening process, receive training and are then appointed by the court before being assigned to advocate for a child.
The release quoted Stine as saying that “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. They then make recommendations to the court to help the judge overseeing the case to decide what is in the child’s best interests.”
Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and being able to serve as an advocate for Baltimore County’s abused and neglected children is asked to contact Gwen Farrugia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-828-0515. The next advocate training session begins on May 10, 2016, according to CASA of Baltimore County.