PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Each year, nearly 408,000 children in the United States experience abuse, or neglect, ushering them into foster care systems. That’s according to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Tenth Judicial District.

CASA supports local children and youth in the courtroom and beyond. For volunteer Deb Ellington, she said devoting her time means everything.

“I was once an abused and neglected child out there,” said Deb Ellington, CASA Volunteer. “I have a big empathy for them and you know, they need to be heard and that’s what I do.”

Ellington proves she’s a champion for local kids through her work and dedication to their success.

“They are not case numbers,” said Ellington. “They are not docket numbers. They are children. They have feelings. They have hopes and dreams. They have hurts, lots of hurts and hurts that will follow them through their lives and that’s really my biggest point is to let people know… these are children.”

CASA Recruitment Coordinator Mike Murphy said Ellington’s allegiance to her work makes her a stand-out volunteer.

“She really makes sure that she’s building those relationships with these children,” said Murphy. “When you’re in the foster care system, sometimes you go from a series of foster homes. Sometimes you go from a series of caseworkers. But what we do as our CASA volunteers…they stick with these kids.”

Murphy said Ellington will also receive the National Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her endless care.

CASA of the 10th recruits volunteers from across Peoria, Tazewell, Marshall, Putnam, and Stark counties.

Three upcoming informational meetings are slated for this month to explain what CASA is and how you can be a part of it.

  • Tuesday, April 12th from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm at the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce, 402 Court St, Pekin
  • Tuesday, April 19th from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm at the Morton Chamber of Commerce, 415 W Jefferson St, Morton
  • Tuesday, April 26th from 4:30 pm-5:30 at the Minority Business Development Center, 2139 SW Adams St, Peoria

Nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero!

About CASA of the Tenth Judicial Circuit:

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Tenth Judicial Circuit is a 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer organization that advocates for the best interests of children within the Juvenile Court system who have experienced abuse or neglect. Its existence is based on the belief that every child has the right to a safe and permanent home allowing them the chance to reach their full potential in life. The organization has been in existence since 2005, serving children who have experienced abuse or neglect. CASA is supported by Heart of Illinois United Way, VCVA IL Attorney General, Illinois Court Appointed Special Advocates, and generous donors. CASA is a Member of the National CASA/GAL Association.