When parents make bad decisions, often times their kids are the ones who get caught in the system. When that happens, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers step in to help out. They become the voice of the child in an overwhelmed system, one where there are more children in need than there are voices to speak for them.
The newest class of CASA volunteers recently completed a six week/30 hour training program. These individuals have a heart for children in our community and want to make sure that abused and neglected children do not get lost in the court system.
On September 24th at the Allen County Court house they joined a team of more than 140 advocates who provide a voice for children who are abused and neglected. Essentially, CASA volunteers “speak up” for these children in the court and child welfare systems, making sure they are safe and well-cared for, are getting the services they need, and are placed in a permanent, safe, nurturing home as quickly as possible by making recommendations to the court.
Magistrate Lori Morgan presided over the swearing in ceremony. She was appointed as Magistrate in the Allen Superior Court Family Relations Division in 1995. Magistrate Morgan currently serves on the Domestic Relations Committee for the Indiana Judicial Conference and is a member of the Indiana AFCC. She is a former chair of the Indiana Continuing Legal Educational Commission and is a former member of the Indiana Juvenile Bench book and the Juvenile Justice Improvement Committees of the Indiana Judicial Conference. Magistrate Morgan has served on the State Advisory Committee on GAL/CASA. She is a 2005 graduate of the Indiana Judicial College and a 2009 graduate of the Indiana Graduate Program for Judges. In 2005, she was a recipient of an Indiana News Center’s Women in Leadership Award. Magistrate Morgan has served as a speaker at the Allen Superior Court’s Annual Conference on Youth and has assisted with the training of Allen County CASA Volunteer Advocates.
“CASA volunteers don’t require any specific educational or professional background. All they need is compassion, objectivity, and a commitment to children. We’ll train and supervise them to be effective voices in court,” says Mell Depew, Volunteer & Recruitment Coordinator for Allen County CASA. “Our volunteers come from all walks of life, and diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. They are ordinary individuals who rise to the extraordinary by making a difference in the life of a child.”
This event is sponsored by the Allen County CASA Coalition, a not-for-profit that focuses its efforts toward recruitment, training, and supporting volunteers. Allen County CASA is affiliated with the Indiana State Office of GAL/CASA, which is part of the Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration. Allen County CASA is certified by the State Office and complies with the Indiana Supreme Court Program Standards and Code of Ethics for GAL/CASA programs. Allen County CASA is also a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association.
Anyone interested in becoming an advocate for children should contact Mell Depew, Volunteer & Recruitment Coordinator, at (260) 449-7190