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New CASA Volunteers Sworn In to Advocate for Children

Volunteer Advocate Class Summer 2014 New CASA Volunteers Sworn In to Advocate for Children

LANCASTER, PA (September 3, 2014) - On Wednesday, Aug 25, the Hon. Jay Hoberg swore in seven Lancaster County community members as CASA volunteers - court appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.

Family and friends gathered in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lancaster County office at 53 N Duke St. in Lancaster to watch the volunteers take an oath promising to advocate for the best interest of the child.

The newly appointed CASA volunteers join over 100 other dedicated community members who have been trained and are advocating for foster children in the county’s dependency court system. CASA volunteers ensure that the children’s needs are recognized and best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.

CASA’s newest advocates are: Marlin Fahnestock, Elizabethtown; Roxanne Koch, Lancaster; Peter O'Donnell, Lancaster; Valerie Shapella, Lancaster; Maria Vita, Lancaster; Carol Wanner, Lancaster; Amy Witkowski, Elizabethtown

CASA volunteers meet with the child regularly and interview people in the child’s life such as social workers, attorneys, teachers, doctors, and mental health professionals. They observe the child in visitation and living arrangements. They write court reports, attend court hearings, and report their findings to the judge.

"Our volunteers remain as advocates for a child or sibling group until the case is closed, and the children are placed in a safe, permanent home," said Jessica Laspino, Executive Director of CASA of Lancaster County. "The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”

Today, more than 250 Lancaster County children are waiting for a CASA volunteer. Many more advocates are still needed. There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 30 hours of training.

The next available advocate training session for CASA of Lancaster County begins in February 2015. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer and the rewards that come along with serving as the voice of a child, please contact CASA at (717) 208-3280 or

CASA of Lancaster County provides court appointed volunteer advocacy for children of abuse and neglect in the belief that every child deserves a safe, nurturing, and permanent home. CASA volunteers believe that growing up in a safe home is a fundamental human right.

CASA is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family.

Photo Caption: Judge Jay Hoberg (fourth from L) administered an oath to the summer CASA trainees (L to R) Maria Vita, Amy Witkowski, Valerie Shapella, Marlin Fahnestock, Roxanne Koch, Carol Wanner, Peter O'Donnell.

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