Our grandchildren live a few hours away, so we see them regularly. During the summer, each one stays three or four days with us getting individual attention as we bake, garden, sew, or craft projects and play games. We make memories.
These experiences remind me of the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) motto: “Changing Lives—One Child at a Time.” When a judge appoints a volunteer advocate to get to know a child, to understand that child’s environment, to talk to people involved in the child’s life, the advocate is focusing on one child.
The advocate makes a difference in the life of the child assigned to him or her. After 30 hours of training and with the support of a supervisor, an advocate writes comprehensive reports that the judge reviews. These reports assist the judge in making recommendations as the case progresses and in making the final determination. Some cases progress quickly, others slowly. But the advocate is a consistent friend to the child throughout the time in the court system.
As of July 1, there were 56 CASA cases (95 children) in Carroll, Lee and Ogle counties, plus additional cases being monitored. So far in 2010, 14 cases have closed. There is celebration when a case is closed with a happy ending. But there is also awareness that tomorrow might bring another child or family into the court system, a new need for a caring CASA volunteer who will speak in court for the best interests of the child. Thirty-four children have been assigned to CASA since January.
Thank you to the 46 advocates currently serving, to the many who have “retired,” and to the seven newly graduated advocates just starting.
For information on becoming an advocate or on assisting with the program in other ways, please call the 15th Judicial Circuit CASA office at (815) 288-1901.
CASA Board of Directors
From the Aug. 11-17, 2010 issue