On Tuesday, April 30, three volunteers from the Ottawa County CASA program traveled with Connie Cornett, Executive Director, to Columbus to join with other CASA programs in the State of Ohio to celebrate CASA Day in Ohio. A reception was held in the Supreme Court building and the Honorable Justice Judith French was the host for the event. Rosalyn Barnhill, JoAnn Behlke, and Mary Hall, all dedicated volunteers in the Ottawa County program, listened to presentations from the Justice, the Ohio Attorney General’s office and the Office of Families and Children.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and these volunteers are trained to advocate for children that are abused or neglected. Volunteers investigate all there is to know about a child and then become the “voice” of that child in the courtroom. John Davis, president of the Youth Advisory Board, a group of young people aged 14-24 that have experienced foster care, expressed his appreciation for the CASA volunteer that has helped guide him to the success he is experiencing today.
Attorney General Mike DeWine has committed $2 million to the statewide Ohio CASA to grow the program throughout the state. During a year-long state wide listening sessions, these volunteers were found to be crucial in helping courts make decisions on the best interest of the children served according to a report released by the Attorney General’s office. Jennifer Justice, Director of the Office on Families and Children, stated that local job and family service offices need to work in conjunction with local CASA programs to serve the needs of the most vulnerable children in the state and that those agencies truly appreciate the commitment of the volunteers to the kids.