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Washington Co. advocates for children sworn in

November 21, 2007

Court-appointed special advocates of Washington County were sworn in Nov. 14 in the Washington County Health Department Auditorium.

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III presented an oath to 11 of the 17 volunteers trained to become advocates for children of adjudicated cases of child abuse and neglect within Washington County.

The ceremony culminates a 30-hour training program preparing the advocates to fulfill their roles and responsibilities working with abused and neglected youth.

The training program and oath are standards of compliance of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association. Washington County special advocates were granted full membership status in August 2007, after fulfilling two years of provisional membership status.

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The advocates completing their training in 2007 are: Charmaine Clarke-Nelson, Frank Davis, Patricia Firey, Lisa Gerringer, C. Ann Hicks, Karen Hutchison, Cheryl Keebaugh, Candace Lange, Linda Marshall, Katherine McBride, Judy Melby-Robinson, Destiney Munson, Rebekah Neumann, Jenny Redifer-Allen, Monda Sagalkin, Kimberly Shindle and Stefanie Stevenson.

The 17 inductees are the most ever trained in a one year period of the local program. In 2006, 13 were advocates trained and sworn in. The program has a roster of 30 advocates serving 31 children, mostly on a one-on-one basis.

In addition to a record number of volunteers trained, program officials highlighted 2007 program achievements as part of the ceremony. Added to the acquisition of full membership status with the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, the local program has developed an advisory council, acquired its articles of incorporation and 501(c)(3) status, and developed an endowment and planned giving program to provide incentives for private, corporate and foundation charitable contributions.

The program also developed a Web page as part of Washington County Health Department's Web site for persons interested in learning more about the volunteer based program and conducted a mass-mailing program providing awareness of child abuse and neglect, as part of grant support provided by the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families and the Washington County Commission.

Program officials recognized the support of the Antietam Exchange Club, the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families and the Washington County Commission for their grant support in recruitment, screening, training and directing Advocates in 2007.

The program is administered by the Washington County Health Department. Approximately 400 children are under the jurisdiction of the Washington County Courts as victims of child abuse or neglect. Washington County has ranked between second and sixth in reported child abuse since 1998 when compared to other Maryland counties and Baltimore City, per 1,000 youth.

For information about the program, call 240-313-3383.

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