Columbia Gorge CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates) newest advocates, Stephanie Bailey and Denise Harwood, both of The Dalles, were sworn in June 27 by Circuit Judge Paul G. Crowley.
These new advocates join a cadre of child advocates who serve neglected and abused children in Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties.
Bailey has lived in the Columbia Gorge area for 40-plus years. She has two adult children, three grandchildren, with one more on the way, and soon will be stepmother to three young children. She is currently employed as an adult abuse investigator and compliance officer for Mid-Columbia Center for Living and has worked in social services for 20 years.
“I’m looking forward to working as a CASA, to advocate for children in the foster care and judicial systems,” Bailey said. “I think every child should have the chance to live and develop in a safe nurturing environment.”
Harwood grew up in Tigard, has lived in The Dalles for the past six years and works for Google as an operations engineer. She keeps house with her husband and three cats. She’s been involved in volunteer work for more than 10 years, working as a summer camp counselor and mentoring the Colonel Wright Junior Robotics teams.
“I’m excited to start working as a CASA in the gorge,” Harwood said. “I hope to be an effective advocate for children and help them receive the best outcome possible during a difficult time in their lives.”
Since children involved in the juvenile dependency court generally do not appear before the judge in person, CASA volunteers are often referred to as “the presence of the absent: the voice of the child.”
A few key benefits of CASA advocacy include:
• Children with a CASA are half as likely to spend time in long-term foster care;
• Fewer than 10 percent of children with a CASA re-enter the foster care system; and
• CASA volunteers spend most of their volunteer time in contact with a child; to a child that means a consistent and caring adult presence in his or her life.
CASAs are able to advocate for half of our communities’ children in need, but the other half is still waiting for more advocates.
All volunteers receive 30 hours of pre-service training using the National CASA Volunteer Training Curriculum, as well as 12 hours of in-service training per year. New advocate training sessions will begin in September 2013.
If you are interested in learning more about the CASA program please contact Susan Baldwin, advocate manager, at 541-386-3468 or 541-993-9506.