From left to right, CASA director Tarah Mongold, CASA volunteers Lorry Swindler, Gail Satterthwaite, and Kathy Vincent.

Submitted photo

COLUMBUS — Volunteers and staff from Clinton County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) joined hundreds of child welfare advocates from across Ohio for the 28th-annual Celebrate Kids! Conference.

There was a record turnout at the three-day event put on by the Ohio CASA/GAL Association last week, with over 600 people attending for training and discussions.

With over 16,000 children in care in Ohio at any given time, this training is more essential than ever.

Volunteers got a wide range of training, including topics like helping children with trauma, navigating the court system and guiding children as they age out of the foster care system. Attendees participated in trainings, discussion sessions and more, fulfilling needed training hours to serve as a CASA volunteer.

CASA volunteers are appointed by the juvenile court judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in the court system. These volunteers are community members of all walks of life who commit to engage in the court system and directly help children who are experiencing abuse and neglect.

CASA volunteers serve children in 60 Ohio counties, an all-time high, just like attendance at this conference. Overall, there are 47 CASA/GAL (Guardian ad litem) programs serving nearly 10,000 children in Ohio annually.

Since its inception in 2016, Clinton County CASA volunteers have served hundreds of children in the community.

“It is heartening to see so many people from across Ohio come together to help children who need it most,” said Ohio CASA Executive Director Doug Stephens. “Training like this is key to making sure children experiencing abuse and neglect have a voice. There are children in every corner of the state that need a CASA volunteer right now.”