Child Advocates Sworn In
CAP: Seen with certificates, after the presentation of the Oath: L-R, front row; Connie Vinck, Vicki Durr, Corease Thomas, and Valerie Schrecongost; L-R, back row - Susan Stepnick, Julien Vinck, Honorable Daniel P. Dwyer, Judge, Nicole Ingram, and Tasha Walls.
Child Advocates Sworn In
HAGERSTOWN, MD (December 10, 2012) -- Honorable Daniel P. Dwyer, Fourth Judicial Circuit - Associate Judge, recently presented the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Washington County Oath to eight volunteer Advocates, as part of a "Swearing In" ceremony for graduates of a fall 2012 training program.
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Washington County serves as the sole, affiliate member of National CASA in Washington County. Together, the National and the Washington County program join in the mission to recruit, screen, train, and direct volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children of adjudicated cases of child abuse and neglect. The goal of both organizations is to join the legal and child welfare systems to provide children the opportunity to be able to grow and develop in safe, secure, and permanent homes.
These Advocates celebrate the completion of a 30-hour training class. This is the first class in which all Advocates completed their training curriculum through an on-line training format.
They make up a roster of 13 Advocates trained in 2012, and a roster of 46 total volunteers, who will receive a court ordered appointment to work with a child on a one- to-one basis or an Advocate may serve a sibling set. The Advocates work with the appointed children, the families involved, and child welfare caseworkers, culminating in a report to the courts as it reflects the "best interests of the child" regarding family preservation, reunification or foster care placement, as well as the educational, therapy, medical, spiritual and community involvement needs of each child.
In FY12, the program served 64 children, the largest ever, for a single year service total. However, as Washington County has historically had a high rate of child abuse and neglect per 1000 youth when compared to other Maryland counties, and since 2003 has had at least double the rate as the state average, the program is serving but a slight percentage of the over 200 children that are under the jurisdiction of the courts every year.
It is a program goal to one day serve at least half of those children who are under the court's monitor.
The program is administered by the Washington County Health Department, and receives operating support from the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation, Community Foundation of Washington County, Washington County Gaming Commission, Richard N. Funkhouser Foundation, Antietam Exchange Club, Rotary Club of Hagerstown Charitable Foundation, Maryland Charities Campaign, and the Child Advocacy Endowment Fund which was established for tax deductible private, individual contributions. The program also receives public grant funding from the Maryland Administrative Office of the courts.
Court Appointed Special Advocates is now in the process of registration of persons interesting in becoming volunteer Advocates. To register, or for more information regarding the program, please call the program office at 240-313-3383 or 240-313-3386; TTY 240-313-3391.