Advocates for Children recently welcomed eight new Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers who will serve cases in Decatur and Jennings counties.

Rick Scalf, a spokesman for the organization, says that the volunteers gathered with their friends and family, as well as staff from Advocates for Children, in the Jennings County Courthouse, where Jennings County Circuit Court Judge Jon Webster administered the oath of office. Prior to administering the oath, Judge Webster made a point of praising the advocates for their decision to step up, and encouraged them to engage in an open dialogue with his court.

“While I can’t comment on the particulars of your case,” Webster said, “I encourage you to come by my office and let me know how you think we can do things better, or where the system can be improved.”

CASA volunteers work on cases involving the victims of child abuse and neglect. Their goal is to be an advocate for the child and work to make sure that the best interest of him or her is always the top priority of the court. Scalf says that recent spikes in the number of cases involving heroin and methamphetamine abuse by parents in the region have led to record numbers of children entering the protection system. He adds that Advocates for Children faces a waiting list of over 100 children.

“These volunteers make a world of difference for the children they serve,” said the program’s Executive Director, Therese Miller. “They help to fulfill the promise that every child deserves a safe and loving home in which to thrive. If it weren’t for our CASA volunteers, many of these cases could stretch on, with vital details being overlooked.”

Advocates for Children is a non-profit organization which provides CASA volunteers for children in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties. If you would like to learn more about the agency, or inquire about becoming a CASA, you visit their website, www.apowerfulvoice.org, or call the office at (877) 604-9402.