Ottawa County joined the statewide CASA organization in proclaiming CASA Day in Ottawa County last week. CASA volunteers are highly trained to advocate for children that are victims of abuse and neglect in the court system.
This program was initiated by Judge Kathleen Giesler and in Ottawa County has grown to include 27 active volunteers and has served hundreds of children. Statistics confirm children assigned a CASA Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) spend less time in the court system, are much more likely to be in a safe permanent home sooner, and are much less likely to reenter the court system. CASA GAL’s dedicate countless hours to investigating, researching and advocating for the best interest of children throughout the county.
These hours are provided to the court at much lower cost than if attorneys were to perform the same work and typically spend much more time getting to know the families and children to be certain that fact based recommendations are made. In addition, the CASA GAL is able to spend more time and energy on their one or two cases effectively assisting the Children Service worker in assessing and making recommendations for the children.
Connie Cornett, Executive Director of the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center, updated the County Commissioners on many of the other programs and services at the center. These include TNT Mentoring (a one on one mentoring program), Ticket to Success (an independent living skills lab), GRANDlove (a program supporting grandparents raising grandchildren); and Summer Lunch and Fun (providing 42,000 meals last summer to children throughout the county.
Cornett also announced the center is the recipient this year of funding through the LPGA Marathon Classic and will be using those proceeds to build a pavilion, community garden and sunflower field. These projects will allow the center to serve families and children in more ways.
For more information or to volunteer at the center, call 419-301-0225.