By Tate Thomson
On Thursday, June 28, Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers were recognized for their service in dependency proceedings in the San Juan County Superior Court. A dependency proceeding could remove children from homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment and give the state guardianship.
The objective of these dependency proceedings, said Juvenile Court Services Administrator Linnea Anderson, is to reunite families.
“The goal that every one of us is working towards is family reunification and as quickly as possible,” said Anderson about those involved in these cases, such as CASA volunteers, attorneys and social workers.
The June 28 gathering doubled as a celebration of Family Reunification Month, which was declared by the Washington Commission on Children in Foster Care.
Judge Katie Loring presented a proclamation recognizing Family Reunification Day and Family Reunification Month, followed by speeches from Anderson and CASA Supervisor and Trainer Lenore Bayuk. Anderson and Bayuk acknowledged other CASA members with certificates and words of appreciation.
Anderson described Bayuk, who has been a CASA volunteer since the 80s, as a “hopeful and steady” leader.
CASA volunteers provide an independent report on dependency proceedings to courts, explained Anderson.
The CASA program started in Washington in 1977 by a Seattle juvenile court judge and has spread to 49 states. According to casaforchildren.org, CASA volunteers are “…appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes.”
Anderson noted that lawyers, judges and social workers often change through proceedings, but county CASA volunteers typically remain a constant.
“The one person who remains stable in [a] child’s life while they’re going through one of the most uprooted experiences of their life is going to be their CASA volunteer,” said Anderson.
For info, visit www.casaforchildren.org. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.