Juvenile Court Program
Since 1982, Child Advocates has been the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) appointed by Marion County Juvenile Court to CHINS (Child In Need of Services) cases to provide representation for foster children with the help of trained, community volunteers. Those cases involve children removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect.
Child Advocates’ primary goal is to assign a caring, trained volunteer to act as an advocate for each child whose parents have abdicated that role through abuse and/or neglect of that child. Volunteers focus all of his/her energies on those few children whose cases she is assigned by the Staff Advocate, visiting the child in his/her placement, interviewing the child, the foster parents, the case manager, therapist and all others pertinent to the case before every hearing. The assigned Volunteer’s report is used by the Staff Advocate (whose caseload includes approximately 150 children and who manages about 15-20 volunteers) to represent the child’s best interests in the courtroom.
The Staff Attorney is responsible for all legal preparation for the child’s case and for representing the Staff Advocate and/or volunteer when they are called to testify in court. Armed with that child-focused report, the judge, then, is able to make informed decisions regarding the best interests of the child (the victim in the case). Volunteers are required to undergo 30 hours of upfront training before being assigned a case. They are constantly monitored by the Staff Advocates.
Family Crisis Advocacy Program
Child Advocates is appointed to represent the best interests of children who are the subject of custody disputes and who have been abused and/or neglected.
When the Marion County Department of Child Services begins proceedings to terminate the parent/child relationship, mediation can often achieve more positive outcomes than a trial.
Youth Advocate Program
Youth transitioning out of foster care at age 18 are often released from the State’s custody without a viable plan of action. Our Youth Advocate Program works with the youth in accessing necessary services and benefits. We build and nurture connections to local and national colleges and universities to help promote the transition from high school to college.
Child Advocates hosts The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s Undoing Racism community workshops. This workshop helps us bring to light a common definition of racism, how it is maintained in institutions, and how it endangers the well-being of children and families.