CASA in Macon County
History of Macon County CASA
Macon County CASA was formed in the summer of 1998 and was initially affiliated with Webster Cantrell Hall. The first training class for Special Advocates was completed in July 1998. The 7 graduates of that first class were sworn in at a ceremony conducted July 24, 1998. Included in that class were Ruth Hawkins, the first Program Director of CASA and a current Volunteer Advocate and Brenda Turner, who later became Executive Director.
Local legislators Duane Noland, Kevin Kehoe and Julie Curry, who had supported the legislation establishing CASA in Illinois, were present. Mr. Kehoe, an attorney, was particularly aware of the need for CASA because he had served as Guardian Ad Litem for abused and neglected children in Macon County.
In that initial partial year of existence, Macon County Advocates served 16 children. By 2000, 13 Advocates served 52 children.
Over time, Macon County CASA established independence from Webster Cantrell Hall as a tax-exempt charitable organization governed by a Board of Directors. Today, 50 Volunteer Advocates serve over 150 abused and neglected children who have come under the jurisdiction of the Macon County Juvenile Court through no fault of their own.
The Mission Statement of Macon County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is to provide court appointed volunteers to advocate for the abused, neglected and/or dependent children who are involved in the Macon County juvenile court system. It shall further be the purpose of this corporation to educate the community regarding its responsibility for children who have been abused or neglected and found to be dependent.
CASA in Macon County
Currently, Macon County CASA has over 50 volunteers. These Court Appointed Special Advocates are serving over 150 children involved with the juvenile court system because of abuse and/or neglect. There is a great need for additional volunteers to serve more of the 600+ children in “the system.”
The Macon County Court recognizes CASA volunteers as “Officers of the Court.” Cases are referred to CASA at the discretion of the Juvenile Judge and/or upon the recommendation of the Assistant State’s Attorney or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) but can be requested by The Department of Children and Family Services or a private agency within the case. The Judge assigns cases based on urgent and immediate need for the child and also how potentially complicated a case may become. Cases are identified for referral at the earliest possible stage, preferably at the conclusion of the initial hearing.
The Executive Director, Program Director and Advocate Supervisors provide support and guidance to volunteers and manage cases until an advocate can be identified. The CASA Program Director assigns cases to an advocate whose skills best match the needs of the child. Upon receiving a case, the CASA volunteer initiates interviews with all connected parties to be able to provide factual information to the judge so he can make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. These interviews include, but are not limited to: parents and extended family members, foster parents, school/day care personnel, caseworkers, counselors, neighbors and friends of the child’s parents. Each volunteer investigates, facilitates, advocates and monitors their case, while supplying the juvenile judge with fact based reports on findings.
These reports help the judge in making rulings that take into consideration recommendations from the advocates about the best long term placement for the child as well as other issues that impact the child’s stability. Ongoing reports reflect the changes that occur with the parties in each case which include but are not limited to parents meeting (or not) the goals on service plans, children thriving (or not) in their temporary settings and any new evidence that may surface.
Who is CASA Macon County?
Board of Directors