CHILDREN HAVE BEEN
BY INDIANA CASA VOLUNTEERS
Vigo County CASA provide specially selected and trained community volunteers to advocate and represent the abuse and neglected children with the juvenile court system; in pursuit of safe and permanent homes for them thorugh collaborations with key agencies, legal counsel, and resources in the community.
WHAT IS A CASA?
CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA's are specially trained community volunteers that are appointed by a judge to serve children entering in to the welfare system due to negelect and/or abuse by their caregiver.
CASA volunteers are the voice of the child, speaking for the best interest of that child throughout the juvenile proceedings.
THE HARD TRUTH
1033 abused and neglected children were served by CASA volunteers and staff in Vigo County during 2017.
Largest age group of abused and neglected children served in Vigo County in 2017 was 0-5 years of age.
Between male and female children who were victims of neglect and abuse in Vigo County: 50.32% were boys and 49.68% were girls.
CASA volunteers donated 13,700 hours and CASAs and Staff made 8011 contacts advocating for Vigo County's children saving the taxpayers of Vigo County $1.37million in 2017.
In 2017 Indiana State had over 4,273 active GAL/CASA volunteers in 82 of our 92 counties. Which have advocated for over 30,168 of Indiana's neglected and abused children.
Over 1,238 new volunteers were trained in 2017.However, there were still over 5,996 children needing an advocate and waiting to have their voices heard.
WHAT DOES A CASA DO?
The specific and only agenda for a CASA is the best interests of the child. A volunteer duties to perform:
Make contact with everyone in the child's life, including the child, parents, foster parents, teachers, caseworkers, counselors, therapists, doctors and other professionals.
Appear at court hearings and submit written reports to the court outlining findings and recommendations as to the best interests of the child.
Collaborate with local agencies to obtain the best possible living solution for the child, whether it be reunification, placement or adoption.
The Impact of a CASA...in a child's own words.
I was a foster child in the late 80's. At that time, in my county there was not a CASA program. I was placed in foster care due to sexual abuse by my setpfather and his friends. My mother quickly divorce him and began the long process of getting us back.
I had told my 3rd grade teacher that I was being molested and begged her not to tell becuase I would get in trouble. Then we received a letter in the mail asking all of us to come to the courthouse because there had been allegations of sexual abuse. It was an incredibly difficult task to tell the detectives and social workers, whom I had never seen in my life, all the icky details of what had happened to me. Even though they assured me that I would not be in trouble, I still felt that I would. By this time, my stepfahter has already called me a "liar" and told me I would to go a foster home and only get bread and water if I continued my "lying". I was very confused but I told the detectives the truth.
I remember how hard it was to leave my mom especially when they told me I could not go home with her. I knew they had lied and I was indeed in trouble! I felt so horrible because my baby sisters couldn't go home with mom either and it was all my fault. Just like my stepfather had told me!
The first home I was placed in was outside of the county I lived in becuase there were no available foster homes. I felt so far away from everything I had ever known. My foster parents were older and said that we could call them Grandma and Grandpa. I called them by their first names because I already had a grandma and grandpa whom I loved!
My foster parents were nice. But it was a completely different environment that I was not used to navigating or understood all the new rules. I felt like living there was our punishment for me telling what was happening. I remember my foster mom tellng me how it was my stepfather's fault and also my mother's. I got upset...my mother hadn't done anything to me and I missed her so bad. I tried to be so good so I could go back home and made sure my sisters were good too.
Could you imagine if one day you were dropped off at a house you've never been to with people you've never seen and everything is foreign, nothing familiar to comfort you? Now imagine you are 8 years old. I regretted ever telling about the abuse. At least if I hadn't told we could be with our mom!
I started a new school where I made one new friend I called "Gigglebox". They wee teaching different things than what my other school was teaching. I felt very out of place. But this foster family took us to church and I loved church! I knew all the answers in Sunday school and I felt like I had friends there. Then one day, the welfare lady came and loaded us up and took us away. I had no idea we would be leaving or where we were going.
We went to another foster home that was closer to my Mom. As the welfare lady was introducing us to our new family I had a burning question..."Will I be able to go to church?" My new foster parents assured me that I could go to church and the church was right down the road. With that I was okay with staying there. But I was never allowed to go to church, which was where I felt safe and soon after arriving there things begin to go very wrong!