Over 600 volunteers, judges, attorneys from across Ohio gather for training to help children in foster care during annual CASA conference

Hundreds of child welfare advocates from across Ohio gathered for the 28th Annual Celebrate Kids! Conference in Columbus, put on by the Ohio CASA/GAL Association.

There was a record turnout of over 600 people at the three-day event featuring training and discussions.

With over 16,000 children in care in Ohio at any given time, this training is more essential than ever.

“It is heartening to see so many people from across Ohio come together to help children who need it most,” said Ohio CASA Executive Director Doug Stephens. “Training like this is key to making sure children experiencing abuse and neglect have a voice. There are children in every corner of the state that need a CASA volunteer right now.”

Volunteers got a wide range of training on topics like helping children with trauma, navigating the court system and guiding children as they age out of the foster care system.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in the court system. These volunteers are community members of all walks of life who commit to engage in the court system and directly help children who are experiencing abuse and neglect.

CASA volunteers serve children in 60 Ohio counties, an all-time high, just like attendance at this conference. Overall, there are 47 CASA/GAL (Guardian ad litem) programs serving nearly 10,000 children in Ohio annually.

Attendees participated in trainings, discussion sessions and more, fulfilling needed training hours to serve as a CASA volunteer or attorney GAL for example.

The event was made possible thanks to multiple sponsors, and featured multiple exhibitors sharing resources with conference goers as well.

The 28th Annual Celebrate Kids! Conference was featured in news stories on every Central Ohio local television station. You can hear from CASA volunteers here from 10TV and here from ABC6.

If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer or supporting a local program, start here.