Having completed 30 hours of classroom training and two to three hours of court observation, five volunteers will officially be able to help abused or neglected children in foster care.
At the Historic Courthouse in Westminster, Master Kathryn Brewer-Poole recently swore in the following individuals as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) in the "Voices for Children of Carroll County" program: Lyn Biller, Stacey Gallina and Jennifer Keeney of Westminster, Anne Chiolo of Finksburg and Russell Bailey of Gettysburg, Pa.
"We are always excited and grateful to be swearing in a new group of Court Appointed Special Advocates," said Christy Kehlbeck, a CASA case supervisor. "All of these screened and trained volunteers are exceptional people, dedicated to reporting objectively to the Court and to providing a much needed voice for children in foster care."
A group of stay-at-home moms and a retiree, these new volunteers all share a common goal.
"I'm interested in social work and wanted to help kids in disadvantaged situations," said Biller, a bookkeeper, office coordinator and franchise co-owner. "I look forward to giving an opinion that is unbiased and represents only one child's best interest, and not that of family members."
Biller recently was assigned to advocate for a child, younger than age two, who was put in foster care due to her mother's drug use.
The foster children's life situations are far different than those of the CASA volunteers.
"It's been so rewarding to teach my children about what I'm doing," said Chiolo, a mother of two boys. "I had to explain to them that not all children are as privileged as they are, and it has sparked them to want to get more involved in the community as well."
Voices for Children of Carroll County seeks dedicated men and women who care about children to volunteer. No special experience is required; training and supervision are provided by professional staff.
"I really liked the group setting of our training sessions. We all exchanged numbers to create a support system to bounce ideas or get advice," Chiolo added. "It was also great to have current volunteers come in and show us different scenarios or viewpoints that we might encounter as a volunteer."
To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, call 410-840-2495 or visit http://voicesforchildren-cc.org.
Voices for Children of Carroll County is one of 15 local CASA programs throughout the state, which recruit, train and supervise volunteers appointed by the court to serve as advocates for children under court protection due to abuse and neglect. Currently, CASA serves children in 19 of the state's 24 jurisdictions.
For more information, visit www.marylandcasa.org.