New Advocates Provide a Voice for Children in Foster Care
Columbia Gorge CASA has added 5 new volunteer advocates: Alan Hickenbottom, Hector Ortiz, Ivy Velarde, Deb Swyers, and Lori Wampler. These new advocates were sworn in by Judge Karen Ostrye, along with new advocate supervisor Angie Perry, during a ceremony held over zoom on November 29th.
“My training experience was great!” said Perry “We used a variety of modalities in class; different learning styles were able to be accommodated. I might be biased but I feel like my group was a special one, right away it felt like I had known everyone for a long time. I think having the other volunteers to talk with will be a support as we start working with the agencies, children, and families in the future.”
CASA’s team of trained volunteers advocate for the best interest of children experiencing foster care in Hood River, Wasco and Sherman Counties. CASA's primary form of advocacy is through submitting court reports to present judges with a fuller picture of what is happening in the child's life. Volunteers devote hours getting to know the stories of the children for whom they advocate and then carefully crafting reports to supply the court with an understanding of that child's everyday life. While other agencies tend to maintain a broader and more clinical overview of the case, CASA volunteers are able to focus solely on the children, painting a more detailed account of their perspectives, hopes, and needs. These reports contain both observations and recommendations regarding the best interest of the child.
“We are able to provide an additional child with advocacy every time we get a new advocate,” explained Executive Director Christopher Janetzko. “Our program is currently serving about 70% of the children in foster care. With additional financial support and with more willing volunteers our program hopes to be able to serve more of our community’s most vulnerable children.
Those interested in supporting CASA’s mission through giving financially or through their time should visit gorgecasa.org. The program’s next training sessions for new volunteers is expected to start in February.