Allen County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the Honorable Magistrate Sheri Hartzler held a Virtual Swearing-In Ceremony on Friday, November 20th, 2020 adding 12 new advocates to their volunteer based program.

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. They will join a team of more than 150 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.

“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. Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, abuse and neglect do not go away. Our CASA Volunteers are truly here to help children feel safe and heard.”

Magistrate Sherry Hartzler presided over the ceremony. Magistrate Hartzler has served as magistrate in Allen Superior Court, Family Relations Division since 2015 and oversees the majority of cases for the court’s Family Recovery Court.

This event was 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 or go to the Allen County CASA website: AllenCountyCASA.org

The Waynedale News Staff
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