Child abuse cases in Indiana on the rise, CASA in need of volunteers
New research from the Indiana Youth Institute ranks the state of Indiana fifth in the nation for the number of first time child abuse cases.
CASA St. Joseph County is working to advocate for children living in foster care. And to do that, it is still in desperate need of more volunteers.
CASA currently has 109 volunteers, which only allows them to take on 35% of cases across the county.
“Our waiting list right now is 462 children, last time I checked,” said CASA St. Joseph County Recruiter and Trainer Lindzy Staples.
She is searching for someone caring, teachable, and able to commit 10-15 hours per month as a court appointed special advocate for a child experiencing abuse or neglect.
CASA volunteers are assigned to specific cases, working closely with a child and judge.
Volunteers make recommendations about that child’s wants and needs and serve as their voice in court: whether it’s to ask a judge for increased visitation with parents, or recognizing special education needs that have gone unnoticed.
Staples said an advocate can greatly benefit a child’s experience in the welfare system.
“Nationally on average, kids spend eight months less in foster care when they have a CASA versus when they don’t,” she explained.
And while schools, case managers, and foster homes can change, CASA’s serve as a consistent figure in a child’s life.
“So it’s a very confusing and traumatic time for them. And to have that one person that just sticks with them through the life of the case is so important,” said Staples.
Training is 8 weeks.
Classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30, in the basement of the Juvenile Justice Building.
To receive more information call St. Joseph County CASA at 574-233-CASA (2272) or visit www.sjccasa.org.