Howard County boasts a plenitude of nonprofit organizations and charitable agencies. Howard Magazine highlights who they are, what they do and how you can help.
In honor of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Howard Magazine is spotlighting Voices for Children, a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association and an affiliate of the Maryland CASA Association.
Name: Voices for Children
Who: Pamela Grady, executive director
Q: What is your mission?
A: The mission of Voices for Children, Howard County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA), is to ensure that the best interests of foster children are represented in Howard County Court. With the average age of children in foster care increasing, we feel our mission expanding to helping youth be better prepared when they leave foster care to live independently with no family support. Our new initiative, Fostering Futures, assists these aging-out youth in this transition.
Q: How many children/families have you assisted?
A: Since our inception in 1992, we have assisted 552 children and families.
Q: Are family situations referred to you for help?
A: All children are referred through the Howard County Court when it is determined that they have been abused or neglected. After assignment, CASA volunteers meet with families, teachers, and Department of Social Services caseworkers to determine what services the child needs and where the best place is for them to live. Reunification, adoption or living as a successful adult are expected outcomes.
Q: How many volunteers are part of your organization?
A: Last year, we utilized 67 CASA volunteers. We also utilized another 60 individuals participating in our online community resource bank through Fostering Futures.
Q: How many staff members?
A: Three part-time and one full-time employee. In addition to executive director Pam Grady, these include Janice Schwarz-Lantner, director of client services; Erica Byrne, supervisor of volunteer services; and Laurel Bishop, program manager.
Q: Do you provide training for your volunteers?
A: We provide 30 hours of training for volunteers before each is assigned a child.
Q: Any important dates or events planned this spring or summer?
A: We will be the beneficiaries of The Wine Bin’s charity event as part of The Ellicott City Spring Celebration on Saturday, April 28.
Q: What is the satisfaction you and your team gain from your role in this organization?
A: We are inspired by the hard work of our volunteers in ensuring these vulnerable children are receiving essential services, are being reunited with families/adopted and are being prepared for living independently. The volunteers provide emotional support and consistency for the children and youth during the stressful court process and transition into new living situations.
To contact Voices for Children:
5550 Sterrett Place,
Suite 215, Columbia