Like many other states, Illinois’ child welfare agency is overwhelmed with children and families in need of assistance. In Lake County, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) provides an extra layer of support and oversight on behalf of an estimated 600 to 700 children each year who have been abused or neglected.
CASA Lake County is one of 15 organizations receiving a 2021 Medline Community Impact Grant. The grants, totaling $250,000, address the many social determinants of health — the economic and other conditions that influence individual and group disparities in health status and care. CASA Lake County will use Community Impact Grant funding to train approximately 60 to 75 volunteer court appointed special advocates.
“We are an organization that trains volunteers to provide support to children and families with open abuse or neglect cases in Lake County,” said Elizabeth Sammann, CASA Lake County program manager. These volunteer advocates, who are supervised by paid, trained managers, “are frontline workers for these kids.”
Volunteer advocates visit each child at least once a month, provide critical court reports and insight to the judges overseeing their cases, and help children and their families to secure vital resources. These can include working with a child’s school to secure an individualized education program (IEP); obtaining funding for camps, extracurricular activities or school supplies; and/or securing food, clothing and safe and secure housing. Many of the children are in foster care or living with a grandparent or other relative who may not have sufficient resources to care for them.
“During the shelter in place order, our organization saw the number of children needing protective services increase dramatically,” said CASA Lake County Executive Director Terri Zenner Greenberg. “This made the recruitment and training of new court advocates more critical than ever. The Medline grant we received in 2020 enabled us to hire and train 64 new CASA volunteers, and the 2021 grant will enable us to help even more children in need of court appointed advocates.”
“The well-being of our communities has never been more important or at risk,” said Karen Frey, Medline senior philanthropy manager. “We are pleased to fund these 15 organizations that are providing broad services to address social determinants of health: from combatting food insecurity, sexual abuse and domestic violence, to providing shelter, education and cancer, pediatric and mental health care and support.
The other 2021 Community Impact Grant recipients will use their funding in the following ways:
– A Safe Place will provide direct services for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and their minor children.
– Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities will divide funding among the organization’s three programs, all working to reduce barriers to healthcare access.
– Bethany House of Laredo will provide a safe environment, free of harmful viruses and pollutants that might cause delays in complying with their Individual Action Plans.
– Equal Hope will expand its breast cancer and population health assistance programs for uninsured, underinsured and publicly insured women and families.
– Gilda’s Club Chicago, which provides support to all people impact by cancer, will grow and diversify its participant base.
– Healthy Mothers, Health Babies Coalition of Georgia will establish a Domestic Violence Survivors program.
– Michelle’s Place will educate high risk, underserved and uninsured women on the importance of early breast cancer detection, and provide access to free annual screenings, diagnostic breast health services and /or MRI tests.
– MidHudson Chocolate Milk will provide lactation education and resources, including through the #LactPact initiative.
– Mother’s Trust Foundation will provide funds to meet specific needs for specific children, including food, clothing, car seats, eye glasses, counseling and medication.
– Northern Illinois Food Bank will provide continued support for the organization’s Screen and Intervene and other programs promoting access to nutritious food for food-insecure individuals and families.
– Riverview Center will provide free and confidential holistic services.
– South Texas Food Bank will support a program aimed at families with children ages 11 and younger, providing monthly supplemental distribution of foods scientifically proven to sustain a healthy immune system.
– Women’s Center Youth & Family Services will provide free and confidential, life-saving shelters and services for homeless, runaway youth and victims of domestic violence.
– Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center will provide programs and support for survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
Learn the other ways that Medline is making a difference in the communities where employees live and work.