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New Court Volunteers Advocate for Berks Children

New Court Volunteers Advocate for Berks Children

by CASA Berks County

CASA of Berks County swears in the 19th class of volunteers for a team of 55 court-appointed special advocates.

“I was fortunate to have good parents and mentors while growing up. I still reflect on how they shaped me. I’d like to do that for someone else who may not otherwise succeed,” said newly sworn-in child advocate Alison Willingmyre. Alison, a Berks native, has two college degrees, one in mechanical engineering and the other in biomedical engineering, and works as a quality engineer. “I don’t have the opportunity to impact others through my profession. I am excited to use my skills to contribute to a program like CASA.”

Alison Willingmyre was sworn in as an official CASA advocate with four others during a court ceremony on May 7, 2024. The group makes up the 19th class of volunteers since CASA Berks County was founded in 2015. Here are the other four volunteers who participated in the swearing-in ceremony.

Tim Greusel, Owner of the Quality Enhancement Support Team (QEST), is the incoming president of the CASA Berks Board of Directors. He comments on the importance of additional child advocates for Berks County. “We welcome our newest CASA advocates with open and thankful arms. The continuing need to expand the group of CASA volunteers is critical at both the personal and systemic levels to best serve the abused, neglected, and marginalized children of Berks County. The role of CASA advocates must never be allowed to falter because when it does, equally loud voices and causes are waiting in the wings.”

CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, is a program that trains volunteers to work with abused and neglected children to determine what is in the best interest of keeping them safe and nurtured. CASA volunteers serve as an extension of the judge’s eyes and ears in dependency court cases. They undergo more than 30 hours of training, including observing dependency court hearings. Once trained, the volunteer child advocates are assigned a child who is a victim of abuse or neglect and in need of someone to advocate for their best interests. The CASA stays with the child until the child is in a safe, permanent home. CASA volunteers work with legal and child welfare professionals, teachers, family members, and others to ensure the judges in Family Court have all the information they need to make life-changing decisions for each child.

There are over 300 children in Berks County who are in foster care. They each could use a child advocate. Those interested in becoming a volunteer child advocate must submit clearances and references and attend an eight-week training course. The next class begins on June 20, 2024. Interested in learning more? Don’t hesitate to contact Christa Yeager by email: [email protected].