All children deserve a voice in their own destiny. Every year, more than half a million children are abused and neglected at the hands of people they should be able to trust to nurture and keep them safe.
Clay County is no exception to the rule and each week, the Clay County Courts and the Indiana Department of Child Services in Clay County are faced with the overwhelming responsibility to protect children.
The court recognizes that children thrown into the legal system need their own special voice. That special voice and representative is a CASA volunteer.
CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program was created in 1977 as a national program. CASAs are trained community volunteers appointed by the Juvenile Court Judge to advocate on behalf of the child's best interest in court. A CASA follows the child's case as it proceeds through the court system, making sure that each child will have a safe permanent home to call their own. The CASA volunteer researches the case, learning everything possible about the child's situation and then goes to court to make recommendations to the judge on what is best for the child's future.
The CASA strives to make sure each child is given a chance to reach their potential in life. CASA volunteers are ordinary people from all occupations who are committed to doing what is best for a child.
All CASA volunteers are trained in courtroom procedure, child development and the juvenile justice system. Volunteers are given training in the general operations of the Department of Child Services as they serve CHINS, Children in Need of Services. Knowledge of the different social service agencies and how they fit into the puzzle for helping these children is an important component of the training. The special needs of abused and neglected children will be addressed with ongoing training. By the time a CASA volunteer completes 30 hours of training, he or she will feel confident and ready to meet the challenge of becoming a voice in a child's life.
Clay County CASA is currently looking for volunteers. Volunteer training will begin soon and the organization is now accepting applications. Any Clay County resident that is interested in becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate should contact Lisa Metz at the Clay County Courthouse at 448-9035 to learn more about the application and interview process.