To the editor:
Recently, I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) here in Hancock County. I have a heart for kids and heard there was a need for advocacy. It sounded like a great fit for me!
What is a CASA? When a child is removed from his/her home for neglect, abuse or other situations, that child is placed in foster care or lives with a relative. If one is available, a CASA is assigned to the child.
After taking the training and being sworn in, I began my journey.
As a CASA, I am the eyes and ears of the child assigned to me. The desires of children are sometimes overlooked in the intricate court process. That’s where a CASA comes in. I go where children cannot, such as to court hearings, Department of Child Services meetings, jail visits, and on and on. It is my duty to represent the wishes of the children to whom I am assigned. After we have gotten to know our “kids,” we attend court and any other hearings involving them and keep a sharp eye on how our children will be affected. We are their voice when otherwise they would have none.
One of my favorite activities is having lunch with “my kids” at their school. We are usually surrounded by friends and sometimes family of the friends who are also lunch guests. On one occasion, a visiting grandparent sitting across the lunch table from us asked my CASA kid, “Is she your grandmother?” Without hesitation, he took a big bite of his cheeseburger and proudly replied, “Nope, she’s my voice. She speaks for me.”
Hancock County desperately needs more CASAs. Currently, there are 89 children in Hancock County without a CASA. During the past year in the state of Indiana, there has been a 24 percent increase in the number of children placed in foster homes. More than 6,000 Hoosier children are on the wait list for a CASA.