VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – CASA, court appointed special advocates, helps give a voice to abused and neglected children.
Currently, the waiting list for children needing a CASA is the highest it’s ever been. 30 hours in three weeks and then it’s a month to month basis.
That’s what is required to become a CASA volunteer. But in Vigo County, CASA is seeing numbers like never before.
“In April, our wait list was 59 and my goal was to have it at 0 by June. Now here it is June 26th and we’re at 128,” explained Ginger Bedford, Vigo County CASA recruiter/trainer.
And that doesn’t take into account the 159 volunteers already advocating for 564 children.
So, why is this number so high?
Bedford stated one possibility is more people are aware of what child abuse and neglect are and less people are turning their back…so this means more cases are being reported.
Another possible reason…
“Of course…the drug problem. You know, some children just aren’t being cared for by their parents because of a drug problem…they’re not aware that the child is in need,” Bedford said.
Either way, the number of children waiting has become overwhelming for CASA and they are counting on these volunteers.
“The children in this particular situation, who have been identified as needing services because of abuse or neglect, don’t really have a voice in the courtroom that’s an independent voice that’s only looking out for their best interest,” says Volunteer Coordinator Tracy Houpt.
Volunteers can be involved as active volunteers which are those assigned to specific cases-representing the child in court. Or they can be ambassadors, who help out where they can as a mentor.
Volunteer applications can be found at their website. CASA just asks that the volunteer be 21 or older.