County child advocate group to hold open house
— Anyone looking for a way to have a positive impact on a neglected child should come to the Historical Society of Cecil County in Elkton on Thursday, when Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will hold an open house.
The event, which is from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., will show off CASA’s new office space on the third floor of the building at 135 E. Main St., according Guilia Hodge, executive director of CASA. The organization had shared an office with Legal Aid in the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse for the past two years.
It also will allow attendees to learn more about CASA of Cecil County, which, dating back to a steering committee in 2014, is one of 15 programs throughout the state that provides advocates for abused and neglected children.
Court-appointed and trained, every CASA volunteer is a committed adult who is assigned to a child in Child Protective Services and then represents and advocates in the best interest of that child.
CASA’s first volunteer was “trained and ready to go” in June, Hodge said Tuesday, adding there are six active CASA volunteers. But those volunteers are scratching only the surface, according to Hodge. There are approximately 180 children in this county who fall under Child Protective Services, part of the Cecil County Department of Social Services, she reported.
“Ideally, we would love to have a one-on-one with every child, one CASA volunteer assigned to every single child in the program,” Hodge said.
CASA volunteers must be at least 21 years old. They must go through a screening process and receive 30 to 40 hours of training.
The primary responsibility of a CASA volunteer is to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court, getting to know the child while gathering information from the child’s family, foster parents, teachers, counselors and so forth, and making recommendations to help the judge decide what is best for the child. CASA volunteers “come from all walks of life” and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, Hodge said.
Those interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer can attend Thursday’s event. An information session is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. For more information, contact Hodge at 410-996-3025.