MEIGS COUNTY — A local Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteer was recently recognized for the “Rising Star Volunteer” award.
Richelle Jose, a local CASA/GAL serving children in Meigs County, was presented with the 2021 Ohio CASA Rising Star Volunteer award at the annual Celebrate Kids! Conference hosted by the Ohio CASA/GAL Association.
Chelsey Kloes, executive director of the Meigs-Gallia CASA/GAL Program, said the associations board of directors and staff award volunteers annually at the conference. Kloes said the awardee is selected after meeting the criteria of diligence, integrity and acting as an ambassador for CASA.
Kloes said Jose has been a CASA for over two years and has served on several cases. Jose has volunteered over 400 hours to her cases in 2021 alone, according to Kloes.
Kloes said CASA/GAL volunteers “advocate in court for children who are going through situations of abuse, neglect or dependency.” Kloes said the children were removed from their homes and placed in foster or kinship care.
“As a CASA/GAL, you obtain a case, review the file, speak to all parties, such as case workers, parents, family members, placements, etc., complete your investigation, then report back to the court formally and informally, your recommendations for the best interest of the minor child,” Kloes said. “You are appointed to the case to be an unbiased third party.”
Kloes said CASA volunteers do not need a specific background or degree to volunteer, but need to apply and take a pre-service training and pass a background check. Volunteers will then take an oath in court.
Kloes said there are currently 25 CASAs in the Meigs-Gallia program and they recruit continuously.
“Each one of them have made a huge impact in the lives of our children,” Kloes said. “Each one of them have gone above and beyond to be a voice in court to best advocate for their child’s needs. Each one of them have set aside their own lives, employment, families, and activities to help another. Each one of them have persevered through this current COVID-19 pandemic pressing hard and ensuring their advocacy does not stop.”
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.