East Central Indiana CASA serves both Hancock and Madison Counties.
East Central Indiana CASA is affiliated with the Indiana State Office of GAL/CASA, which is part of the Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration. East Central Indiana CASA is certified by the State Office and complies with the Indiana Supreme Court Program Standards and Code of Ethics for GAL/CASA programs. East Central Indiana CASA is also a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association, where last year, more than 76,000 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers nationwide helped more than 251,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. CASA/GAL volunteers are everyday citizens who have undergone screening and training with their local CASA/GAL program.
In Indiana, volunteers from local CASA programs 4,034 GAL/CASA volunteers advocated for 26,762 children involved in abuse/neglect cases in Indiana’s courts in 78 of our 92 counties.
Right here in our community, East Central Indiana CASA had 1,431 children assigned in 2017. Volunteers and staff advocated for 597 of the assigned children. East Central Indiana CASA currently has 86 volunteer advocates serving these vulnerable children. However, there is a tremendous need for additional volunteers. Sadly, the agency had a total of over 900 children on a waiting list for a child advocate in 2017.
East Central Indiana CASA recruits, trains and supports CASA volunteers as advocates to get to know the abused or neglected child and determine their needs and what is in the child’s best interest for their future. The CASA volunteer communicates this information about the child to the court so the child’s voice can be heard and so the child does not become “lost” in the system.
The CASA volunteer helps the child to understand what is going on in the case and provides a friendly face, support, stability, and consistency for the child during legal proceedings amidst a sea of unfamiliar people – including police, doctors, child welfare workers, and lawyers. By presenting the best interests of abused and neglected children to the court, advocates help judges to make better informed and more timely decisions about children so they can be returned home or placed in a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible.
In addition to speaking for the child in court, CASA volunteers assist children in other ways to recover from the situations that placed them in foster care – providing encouragement and support to enable them to lead healthy, productive lives. Advocates serve as role models to children who often have no one else to turn to. For example, many advocates assist with educational needs, encourage career interests, and develop meaningful relationships with their assigned children that have a lifelong impact on both the children and the volunteer.