CASA Day 2015
Posted on March 10th, 2015
First of all, what a success and an amazing turn out for CASA Day at the Statehouse. We can’t thank each and every one of our CASA’s from across the state enough for attending this annual event.
Yesterday, hundreds of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers, alongside their friends and supporters, gathered today at the state capitol for CASA Day. March 9 marks the rally’s third year. This year, speakers included Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Senator Carlin Yoder and two former foster youth.
The goal is to draw attention to the need for CASA volunteers and the importance of their role as a voice to our society’s most vulnerable children. CASA volunteers advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children whose families are involved with the child welfare system. There are nearly 3,500 CASA volunteers in 77 Indiana counties advocating on behalf of 18,000 abused and neglected children.
“Society has a fundamental obligation to guarantee that the basic rights and needs of every child are met,” said Cindy Booth, Executive Director of Child Advocates. “Every child deserves the chance not just to survive, but to thrive in the safety and love of a family throughout their childhood and beyond. Without a CASA volunteer to guide them safely out of foster care, children who are victims of abuse or neglect might not have that guarantee. That’s why we rally in Indianapolis, to make sure our legislators know that our children’s lives are hanging in the balance.”
In 2005 the legislature made it law that in the state of Indiana any child who is victim of abuse or neglect must have a CASA volunteer appointed to them. “We were created for a reason,” said Leslie Dunn, State Director of the Child Advocates Network. “We were created by the legislature to ensure children do not slip through the cracks of an overburdened system. We didn’t create ourselves. We were created to do this amazing job, and now we need the funding to do it.”
The issue on hand is an increase in funding for the program. Funding has remained constant since 2007. This year, the program plans to ask for an additional 2.1 million. Indiana is a financially responsible state, but we don’t want to have a budget surplus on the backs of our children.
There are over 18,000 abused and neglected Indiana children being advocated for, with an additional 4,000 children on a waiting list hoping for a CASA to speak out for their best interest. Additional funding would help recruit and train CASA volunteers as well as enable community outreach of the program. With a 30% increase in CHINS cases over the last year, we need to double our volunteer base.
It is with high hopes that we are reaching out to our legislators, our creators, and asking them to consider helping us fund this job that was created for us, and we love doing.
The number one goal of Child Advocates’ is to provide independent, child-focused representation to every child who has suffered abuse and/or neglect. Child Advocates is the only agency to hold the contract with the Marion County (Indianapolis) Juvenile Court to provide this service.
Individuals interested in volunteering or learning more about Child Advocates can visit the agency’s website or call toll free at 317-205-3055.