INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 7, 2016) - Monday is CASA Day at the Statehouse.
A court appointed special advocate (CASA) acts as the voice for abused and neglected children.
There are more than 5,000 children waiting for a CASA and volunteers will gather at the Statehouse to draw attention to the need for more help.
"There’s a huge need because in the past couple years there’s been a 40 percent increase in the child abuse cases," said volunteer Velma Coles.
CASA volunteers get to the know the child and tell the judge what the child needs to get into a safe and loving environment.
Every day, there are hundreds of abused and neglected Hoosier children who go to court alone or who have no one to speak up for them and to tell the court what they need while they are in foster care.
"It is our job to go in, give to the children, make sure their needs have been met and the judge gets our voice as to what they need," said Coles.
Coles has been volunteering for four years.
"I love children," said Coles. "I absolutely do. I love working with them and as I retired I still needed some more things to do."
Coles says the time commitment is small and the reward is big.
According to the Child Advocates Network, when you become a volunteer you are asked to make a commitment to at least one child or sibling group for the duration of the court case, which usually lasts a year, but could go on longer if the children cannot be reunified with their parents. You will dedicate about 10-15 hours a month which will be spent visiting your assigned child, gathering information and preparing a summary for the court.
"Sometimes you get to a point where you want to give back, and this would be a perfect way to give back. There are so many children out there who don’t have anyone to speak for them. Just think of the child. If you’re not doing it for you, do it for the child and you’ll get hooked."
"There’s the good moments, the bad moments, but the fact that I know I’m making a difference to these children and their lives, it’s worth it. I couldn’t ask for anything more. And it doesn’t cost me anything but a little time. How great is that?"
Click here for more information on becoming a CASA volunteer.
Governor Mike Pence will thank volunteers for their service at approximately 12:30 p.m. at the Statehouse. The program will also include remarks from Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and a former foster youth from Monroe County. The gathering is expected to include approximately 300 CASA volunteers from across the state in the North Atrium on the second floor.
There are nearly 3,500 volunteers in 78 Indiana counties advocating on behalf of 23,500 abused and neglected children.