Columbia Gorge CASA Welcoming New Volunteers

New CASA volunteers sworn in on April 18 include (l-r) Corrie Smith, Patty Hyde, Sheri Sharp, Judge Stauffer, Katie Layne and Martine Geeraert. (Submitted photo)

Columbia Gorge CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) introduces its newest child advocates: Martine Geeraert, Hood River; Patty Hyde, The Dalles; Katie Layne, White Salmon; Sheri Sharp, Grass Valley; and Corrie Smith, Hood River.

The group was sworn into duty by the Honorable Janet L. Stauffer in The Dalles on April 18, 2018, after completing 32 hours of training.

Prior to leading the CASA oath Judge Stauffer, a former CASA volunteer prior to election to the bench described a few of her life experiences and shared some of the aspects CASAs have brought to her courtroom in support of children.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for children in the foster care system; they make sure that children receive needed services, that timelines are met so that children don’t get lost in overburdened legal and social service systems, and that they are placed in permanent, loving homes as soon as possible.

CASAs are in a unique position, as a legal party, to advocate for the best interests of children’s lives while in foster care. Judges rely on the comprehensive and informed information provided by CASA volunteers. CASAs have tremendous privilege and responsibility to have a positive impact on a child’s case.

Last year, more than 76,000 CASA volunteers helped more than 251,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. CASA volunteers are everyday citizens who have undergone screening and training and independent research has demonstrated that children with a CASA/GAL volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and less likely to re-enter care.

Columbia Gorge CASA serves children in Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman counties; advocates serve children in care so that they might have the chance to live and develop in a safe, nurturing environment.

Volunteers receive 32 hours of pre-service training using the National CASA Volunteer Training Curriculum. New advocate training sessions will begin in fall.

Persons interested in learning more about the CASA program can contact Michelle Mayfield, training coordinator, or Susan Baldwin, volunteer manager, at 541-386-3468.

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