Child advocacy group gets $23,000 grant

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind.- The Delaware County CASA program is getting some much-needed relief as it continues to feel the effects of the opioid epidemic.

CASA is a county program where volunteers advocate for abused and neglected kids who are making their way through the court system.

This week, Delaware County CASA found out it’s getting a $23,000 grant from the Funders Forum Collaborative.

In Delaware County, there are more than 600 kids who qualify for help from CASA, but director Ashley Soldaat says more than 400 of them are still waiting for an advocate.

“This is not normal,” said Soldaat, “five years ago we had ten families on our waiting list that needed an advocate.”

The cause, she said, is the opioid epidemic. As more parents get sucked in by the drugs, their children suffer too, often removed by the state when mom or dad ends up in jail or dead.

“Despite the huge societal issues we have, I don’t think the community really understands the impact that its having on this part of the system,” said Soldaat.

The grant will be used to fund advertising to get the word out about CASA and hopefully recruit more volunteers. Currently, there are 63 advocates in Delaware County.

“We could use another 200 easily and keep them busy,” said Soldaat.

Since 2012, the county has seen an almost 200 percent increase in the number of child abuse and neglect cases.

Soldaat is hoping with this grant, more advocates will come on board, to help the growing number of kids in need.