CASA volunteers needed

Jan. 7—GREENSBURG — Children taken from their homes, nearly 600 a month in the Decatur/Rush/Jennings region, need help. Children who are in the court systems because of family neglect, parental incarceration or a host of other reasons need volunteers to lend them a hand, provide them some much needed comfort, and be their voice.

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is someone who, with moderate training and a compassionate heart, stands up for those children at a time when their lives have been turned upside down.

In many cases these children are left alone to fend for themselves in the very complicated adult world of Child Protective Services and the court system.

Sometimes these children have been taken from their homes in the middle of the night with no or few personal possessions.

There are multiple non-profits addressing their emergency needs, providing blankets and a change of clothing to get them through the first few days, but after that ...

"If the judge decides that care for these children is needed, that's when we need a child advocate," Advocates for Children Director of Volunteer Engagement Cristal Nevins said. "This person is not on the parents' side and they're not on the court's side, they are simply the voice of the child."

CASA's are responsible for interviewing teachers, getting reports from therapists and from DCD, and they meet with the child at least twice a month.

With the main goal of preventing further disruptions in a child's life, CASAs compile a report with their recommendations for the best care of that child. Whether it be visitations, therapies or parental counseling, the CASA creates a report that advises the court system on the best care needed for the child.

And if child is unable to be returned to their family of origin, the CASA advocates for their adoption.

Some might feel that job is a bit daunting.

"It's a lot of work," Nevins admits, "but it's important work, so we've got to do it."

AFC will provide willing volunteer advocates with an online application link to start the process.

The application is detailed and comprehensive, but it helps AFC decide where a CASA is best utilized within the agency and what types of children would be best served by the CASA.

A criminal history check and a Department of Child Services screeing will be conducted, as well as a fingerprint background check, all in effort to protect the children involved.

Also needed on the application is a list of three references who will have a brief conversation with Nevins.

Beyond that, in the first six weeks the new CASA will receive 30 hours of training.

"Depending on the CASA group we're training, we try adjust the timing during the day to fit everyone's schedule," Nevins said.

To reach Advocates for Children, email, or call the office at (812) 372-2808 ext. 3303.

For more information, go to, or look for Advocates for Children on Instagram and Twitter.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-651-0876 or email