Jessamine County Fiscal Court hosts award presentation for child abuse prevention volunteers

Published 10:58 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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Staff Report

Ten Jessamine County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers have been honored for earning the Presidential Volunteer Service award. 

The ten were honored at a Jessamine County Fiscal Court Meeting and recognized by the Judge-Executive David West and county magistrates. The awards were presented to Kellye Cole, one of the volunteers who could attend. 

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The Presidential Service Award recognizes volunteers across the county who contribute long hours to worthy child abuse cases. In 2023, Jessamine’s 10 award recipients contributed 2,094 hours to their work with the CASA program. The average CASA volunteer contributes 5 to 10 hours of service every month.

Six volunteers, Anna Jones, Cole, Alex Allouch, Maquel Sarantakos, Barbie Carter, and Charlene Floyd, each gave more than 100 hours and received the Bronze PVSA. 

Four volunteers, April Jilbert, Herb Toews III, Julie Creech, and Julie Turner, invested more than 250 hours and received the Silver PVSA. 

The volunteers each received a pin or medallion based on the level of their award, a certificate, and a letter of thanks signed by the U.S. President. 

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the Fiscal Court also hosted an event to recognize this on the same day it honored the CASA volunteers. 

Judge West also signed a proclamation recognizing April as Child Abuse Awareness Month in Jessamine County. 

Now, pinwheels can be seen outside the Jessamine County Courthouse to raise awareness for the month.

“We urge all citizens and organizations to participate in efforts to strengthen families, thereby aiding in preventing child abuse and creating healthier communities. Preventing child abuse and neglect is a problem that depends on involvement among people throughout the community. During periods of economic challenges, families feel more vulnerable, and as a result, child abuse and neglect increases drastically. Child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure each family has the support they need to raise their children in a healthy environment.” read a press release sent out by the office of Judge West.

More About CASA and child abuse in Jessamine County

CASA volunteers are matched with children in the family court system who need an advocate. Each volunteer visits their child monthly, talks to adults in their child’s life, and reviews medical and educational records.

CASA volunteers’ reports help family court judges make more informed decisions, which can lead to improved outcomes for children, including more of the services they need to thrive and shorter stays in the system. 

In Jessamine County in 2023, there were 236 new cases of child abuse or neglect and likely more than 470 children with open family court cases. The 57 children served by Jessamine County’s 24 volunteers represent about 12% of the total children with cases. 

CASA Executive Director Melynda Jamison said the organization is grateful to Jessamine Fiscal Court and the city of Nicholasville for helping to fund the CASA program. 

“Without their funding, Jessamine County couldn’t have a CASA program, and these volunteers couldn’t invest so much time in Jessamine County children,” Jamison said.  

Anyone interested in becoming a CASA volunteer can email or call (859) 484-6554 for more information. A regional training for new volunteers will be held in Lexington from June 24 to 28. The schedules for all upcoming training sessions are available at