Hanover County’s newest class of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) was sworn in by Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Shannon O. Hoehl on December 2.
The newest CASA members are Peggy Depew, Jayne Flowers and Gwen Green.
CASA volunteers meet one-on-one with abused and neglected children who are involved in cases being heard by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Last year, 34 children were served by volunteers who contributed nearly 1,600 hours of service to the youth served by the program. That represents $46,478 in value-added benefit to our community, said Melanie Baker, CASA Program Coordinator.
“To me, CASA volunteers are the most admirable and respected people in our whole judicial system,” Judge Hoehl told the new class members. “My role is hard, but I can’t imagine how much harder it would be to be hands-on with our children as you are. Sixteen hundred hours – that’s truly amazing!”
“I never miss reading a CASA report,” Judge Hoehl added. “I find it the most important piece of evidence I read on a case.”
The volunteers were also thanked by Jim Taylor, Deputy County Administrator, as well as Baker.
“These CASA volunteers will use countless skills in advocating for what is in the best interest of every child to whom they are assigned,” Baker said. She noted that over these volunteers had shown their commitment by completing intensive training sessions of about 43 hours including two all-day Saturday trainings.
The training sessions included child welfare, the history of our laws as they pertain to abuse and neglect, poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, inequities that exist within systems, adverse childhood experiences, conflict resolution, interviewing skills and how to write court reports, she said. They also learned about the Children’s Services Act., the role of the Guardian ad Litem, what it is like to be a CASA volunteer and services that are available at the Hanover Community Services Board.
“Hanover CASA exists to be a voice for abused and neglected children in court, to educate the community on child welfare issues, and to advocate for safe and permanent homes for all children,” Taylor said. “I, along with County Administrator John Budesky as well as the Board of Supervisors, support and endorse the Hanover County CASA Program. Congratulations to our new CASA training class on their achievement and their dedication to the children of Hanover County.”
For more information about Hanover’s CASA program, please call Melanie Baker, Coordinator, at 365-4296 or e-mail her at [email protected]. The CASA program is part of the Department of Community Resources.