Winnebago County CASA celebrates 25 years of service
Online Staff Report
Friday, June 15, Winnebago County CASA will be celebrating 25 years of advocating for abused and neglected children who are involved in the Winnebago County Juvenile Abuse & Neglect Court System. The celebration will take place at Franchesco’s Ristorante, 7128 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, and begins at 6 p.m. All CASAs, current and former, will be honored. Paul Logli will emcee, and several CASA volunteers will speak about their experiences as CASAs. Contact the CASA office for more information at (815) 319-6880, or visit the website www.winnebagocountycasa.org or Facebook page.
With more than 1,400 abused or neglected children brought before the Winnebago County Juvenile Abuse & Neglect Court each year, Judge Mary Linn Green looks to CASA to significantly increase its number of trained volunteers.
The first CASA program in the country was conceived by a Seattle judge who was concerned over making decisions about abused and neglected children’s lives without sufficient information. His idea of using trained community volunteers was so successful that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with the passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today, more than 950 CASA programs are in operation, with more than 75,000 women and men serving as CASA volunteers.
In the winter of 1986, Diane Kramer from the Junior of League of Rockford, and retired Judge Bradner Riggs brought the facts about the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program to the attention of the Junior league with the conviction that this project would be of great benefit to our county in helping children who have been abused or neglected.
In the spring of 1986, the project was approved by the Junior League, and a committee under Lea Halsey and Kathy Catalano’s leadership was formed. The project budget was to be one of the highest ever approved by Junior League. Grant writing began early in the project, and in an 18-month period, brought in more than $15,000.
Along with the development of funding, the recruiting and training of CASA volunteers began. After 35 hours of training and six hours of court observation, the first case assigned to CASA by the Juvenile Court judge was in March of 1987. Within two years, 50 CASAs were trained. Over the last 20 years, a total of more than 500 CASA volunteers have gone through the training to be a CASA and have served more than 2,030 children.
Posted June 13, 2012
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