Advocate group for abused children to hold fund-raiser at Columbia mansion

September 09, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

After a successful first year of helping abused and neglected children, the non-profit group Voices For Children will celebrate on Friday with a fund-raiser at Columbia's Oakland Manor mansion.

During the past year the organization has trained 25 volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children in cases that reach the juvenile court system.

Acting as an independent fact-finder, a court-appointed volunteer investigates and gathers information on individual abuse cases. Based on discussions with social workers, parents, family members, teachers and the abused or neglected child, the volunteer makes a recommendation to the judge about how the case should be resolved.

Currently 17 Voices For Children volunteers are assigned to work with abused and neglected children in court cases.

The fund-raiser, called "A Vintage Affair," will be held on Friday from 8 to 11 p.m. at Oakland Manor, a restored 19th- century mansion.

Seven months in the planning, the event will feature wine-tasting and gourmet hors d'oeuvres and desserts donated by area caterers, said Voices For Children development director, Carol Spangler.

Voices For Children is part of the nationwide Court Appointed Special Advocate organization, or CASA, with 19,000 volunteers in 47 states.

The Howard County chapter had its first volunteer training session last September and began assigning volunteers to abused and neglected children in January.

Volunteers, who must pass a criminal background check and attend 30 hours of training, are assigned to child abuse and neglect cases by juvenile masters. The master may decide to appoint a volunteer after reviewing a case or a social worker or representative from juvenile services may request a CASA volunteer.

Those involved in child abuse and neglect cases, social workers, therapists and juvenile court judges, have been supportive of the Voices For Children program, said Janice Schwarz-Lanter, executive director of the program.

"We've seen within the last few months an increasing acceptance of the program," said Ms. Schwarz-Lanter.

Most of the program financing comes from a $25,000 state grant, a $15,000 Columbia Foundation grant and donations from private organizations and businesses.

Voices For Children will begin its third training session in October.

Tickets to the fund-raiser are $35 and will be sold at the door.

For information about attending the fund-raiser or becoming a Voices of Children volunteer, call 740-0933.

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