New CASA volunteers sworn in to advocate for children


Submitted



EATON — On May 26, the Preble County Juvenile Court and The Hon. Jenifer K. Overmyer welcomed four new CASA volunteers — court-appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.

Paula Connerley, Debbie Huff, Ruthanne Munger and Ashley Roberts join 16 other dedicated community members who advocate for children in the Preble County Juvenile Court because the children have been removed from their parents due to allegations of abuse or neglect.

The four new CASA volunteers completed the first-ever completely virtual training. Coursework for each session posted in Google Classroom was discussed during weekly virtual meetings via Skype.

“Feedback from the CASA trainees regarding the first virtual training was overwhelmingly positive,” said Mary Warrick, Director of the Preble County CASA Program. “Feedback ranged from the information being ‘very easy to follow and understand’ to being ‘very informative and presented very well for the first time using Google [Classroom].’ One trainee thanked us for ‘presenting this training during a very trying time!’”

The virtual training curriculum included a combination of resources developed by the National CASA Association and local stakeholders who presented regarding their area of expertise. Presenters included: Michele Thomas from the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office; Michelle Gebhart from Gebhart Counseling Solutions, LLC; Rebecah Sorrell from the Preble County Job and Family Services; and Courtney Griffith from the Preble County YWCA. Preble County Juvenile Court Judge Jenifer K. Overmyer swore in the volunteers over Skype during the last virtual training session.

“I am so impressed with the ingenuity of our CASA Director in providing this extensive CASA training entirely via video conference!,” said Overmyer. “I was happy to be able to go over the ‘basics’ with the volunteers on the first night and swear them in on the last night of training despite the restrictions imposed on us all due to the pandemic.”

CASA volunteers are asked to meet with the children regularly and are authorized to interview people in the children’s lives such as social workers, attorneys and teachers. They attend court hearings for the children and report their findings to the judge.

“The volunteers are invaluable as they serve as the eyes and ears of the Juvenile Court,” said Warrick. “Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed and the child is placed in a safe and permanent home.”

Preble County children are waiting for a CASA volunteer to serve as their voice in Preble County Juvenile Court proceedings and more advocates are needed. The only prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer are being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 30 hours of training.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards which accompany being the voice of a child who has been abused or neglected, contact Wendy Aker or Mary Warrick at 937-456-2885 or via email at wendy.prebcocasa@gmail.com or prebcocasa@gmail.com. Find our more at: www.prebcocasa.org.

The Preble County CASA Program is a member of the Ohio CASA Association, the only statewide organization supporting all local CASA programs in Ohio, and the National CASA Association, a network of more than 900 CASA programs serving children in 49 states and Washington D.C.

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