By Marilyn McQueeney, CASA Child Advocates Program Director
- During the past year, 302 Advocates served 665 children in care in Montgomery County.
- There were 250 new children brought into care during this time.
- We have sworn in 85 new Advocates.
- And by far most importantly, we have continued to serve 100% of the children in care in our county.
Amazingly enough, all this was done while dealing with a pandemic for half of the year. We have continued to train new Advocates, swear in Advocates, attend court hearings, attend case meetings, and provide in-service trainings virtually. The work for the children of Montgomery County has gone on in an outstanding way with our staff and Advocates becoming proficient with Zoom meetings!
Our incredible Advocates have come through in an amazing way to continue the work of advocating for the best interest of every single child by doing whatever it takes and overcoming whatever challenges they have encountered by the pandemic.
As a program, we have continued to expand our knowledge to provide the very best advocacy we can for the children in care.
- Our goal to make Montgomery County a trauma-informed county where all the adults in the abused and neglected children’s lives will understand the effects of the trauma they have endured has continued through the past year. We have expanded our trainings to not only our Advocates but also our community. We have had the opportunity to share TBRI with attorneys, Law Enforcement, foster parents, CPS caseworkers, medical workers, and several other CASA’s in our area.
- Our work with Collaborative Family Engagement continues as we see how vital finding family and connections is to our children and families involved with the system. Even during the pandemic, our Advocates have been able to continue the work of ensuring that our CASA children have connections with positive, familiar adults.
- We are in the process of expanding our goals for our CASA4Teens program in order to provide our youth better advocacy and at the same time better prepare them for adult living. We have an amazing team of staff, Advocates, and community partners working together to help us bring better outcomes for our teens in care.
- We have also expanded our involvement in the anti-trafficking initiative in Montgomery County. We continue to focus on educating our Advocates on recognizing the signs of when a child is being trafficked since statistics show that children in foster care are a vulnerable population and targets to traffickers. This awareness and knowledge is so important in the area we live.
This has been a challenging year for CASA due to Covid-19, however the work has continued. The advocacy for our CASA children has not waivered. I am so incredibly impressed with the work of our Advocates and Staff during this difficult time. I am so proud to stand next to all of them as we make a difference in the lives of the children in Montgomery County.