Community Services for Children honored Dr. J. Robert “Bob” Lovett and Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lehigh County at the 22nd annual Inez and Edward Donley Award for Children’s Advocacy last week.
The award, established in 1996, acknowledges individuals and organizations whose public service has significantly improved the quality of life for children. It is named for the late Inez and Edward Donley, the first recipients, who spent their lives advocating for children. This year’s event, held April 13 at DeSales University, was especially memorable, as it came just days after the passing of Ed Donley.
Lovett, a retired Air Products executive, and his wife, Sandy, are known for their devotion to at-risk youth in Allentown. He is hailed as a hands-on leader involved with many children’s-focused community organizations, including serving as founding chair and lifetime trustee of the Da Vinci Science Center; chair of the Baum School of Art; board member of Communities in Schools, Community Bike Works, the Lehigh Valley Early Learning Coalition and the Community Action Development Corporation (CADC) of Allentown; and member of the Executive Committee for Building 21, Allentown School District’s new innovative high school. He has also served on the boards of Cedar Crest College, Ursinus College and the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority.
The mission of the Lehigh County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program is to provide consistent, credible and trained volunteers who investigate, facilitate, monitor and advocate for Lehigh County’s abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency court. CASA’s 55 volunteers have undergone rigorous training on topics including child welfare best practices, education, mental health and the legal system. Volunteers work with children ages birth to 18, with a special emphasis on those 12 and younger. They visit the children, teachers, foster care parents, doctors, therapists and anyone else who may have information relevant to ascertaining what would be in the best interest of the children. Findings show that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and in the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation and that they have greater chances of finding permanent homes.
Community Services for Children is a regional leader in early childhood education, affecting the lives of 40,000 children annually. Its Head Start program is recognized as a national center of excellence.