When there’s no going home for the holidays.

Posted on November 19th, 2014

139992483(1)     It’s that time of year again when people of all ages are heading back to their families and homes. The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s a time where we find ourselves      surrounded by the comfort of familiar faces and family. Young and old alike, one can simply not deny the pleasures of being home.

Unfortunately, for many of the children in Marion County this year, there is no going “home for the holidays.” For them, this warm, loving, comforting place does not exist. These    children have been removed from their homes because they have been victims of life threatening abuse or neglect. They have likely been placed in foster care and will spend their holidays  surrounded not by friends and family, but by strangers in a strange place.

Record breaking CHINS (Child In Need of Service) cases are happening in Marion County right now. Child Advocates is responsible for representing all of these children throughout the    duration of their court case. As of September 30, 2014 Child Advocates represented as many children as it did in all of 2013.

Child Advocates also experienced the highest month of new CHINS cases in over 15 years. In October 2014 there were 395 new CHINS initial cases, breaking a record by almost 100 from  March 2014. An average day typically will have 6-8 possible new cases. On a specific Wednesday in November there were 47 new CHINS cases entered in one day. Child Advocates Executive Director Cindy Booth states, “It is likely we will represent around 6,000 children this year, when we would typically serve 5,000.”

So why is this happening? What’s the cause of all these new children being brought into the system? It seems like there is no concrete answer. Judge Marilyn Moores believes many of them are heroin related. It seems there have been two large waves of heroin which are hitting Indianapolis. Parents using heroin are producing substance addicted infants and neglecting children in the home. This drug usage is generating more domestic violence, more substance abuse and more child abuse and neglect.

Public safety officials say it could be the result of the recession and Child Advocates Director of Juvenile Court Programs, Gregg Ellis, says it’s likely a combination of all of these things. There is no definite answer to these crimes against our children, but there is something we can do to help provide a glimmer of hope in these times of instability and inconsistency.

By providing these children the guarantee of a CASA volunteer, we can provide them a consistent, positive adult role model from their community that can encourage them to thrive. Child Advocates CASA volunteers are ordinary individuals who make an extraordinary impact on the lives of foster children. They dedicate their time to investigating each child’s case and bring recommendations to the judge, based on the best interest of the child. CASA’s provide a voice in court to children who would otherwise have no representation.

During these record breaking times of new cases and cases lingering longer in the system, Child Advocates is in desperate need of new volunteers to represent these children in our community. It is our responsibility to make sure we have people out there visiting these children and representing them in court. Child Advocates is reaching out to the community and asking that you help us help our children. All children deserve a safe and secure home free of abuse and neglect. You can be the difference; you can be the change that impacts a child’s life forever.

 “There is no keener revelation of society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” – Nelson Mandela

 Learn how you can become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in Indianapolis today. Not sure you have the time? Donate to help give hope to our city’s children. They need you.