INDIANAPOLIS (WTWO/WAWV) – Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers and staff gathered at the Statehouse Wednesday to celebrate 30 years of best interest advocacy and thank government officials and legislators for their ongoing support.
Indiana CASA programs last year provided 1 million hours of training for 4,500 volunteer advocates who served nearly 25,000 abused and neglected children throughout the state.
Knox County CASA was one of the earliest programs in Indiana, tracing its roots to 1986. Knox County CASA is very grateful for the local support of our program and we are happy to attend this State event to let our state representatives know that they are appreciated and needed to make the program a continued success.
Event speakers included, Chief Justice Loretta Rush, State Director of GAL/CASA Leslie Dunn and Advocates for Children Executive Director Therese Miller.
Youth Advocate guest speaker, 23-year-old De’Coriyanna Garrett, shared personal remarks about how working with an advocate impacted her life.
“As I became a teenager, the reality of still being in foster care made me feel sad, depressed, alone, and the belief that my voice didn’t matter because I never felt my voice was heard,” said De’Coriyanna “When Ms. Andrea came on board as my advocate, those feelings started to go away. Her consistent visits let me know she cared about me and my feelings. Not only did she encourage me to stand for what I wanted, she listened to my opinions, spoke up for me when I needed her to, and made sure my voice was finally heard.”
CASA volunteers receive special training to prepare them for their important role. As a volunteer advocate, CASAs provide the court with carefully researched, factual information about the child to help the judge make an informed decision as to what is in each child’s best interest.
“The critical work of advocating for abused and neglected children and ensuring each child has a voice in court, simply cannot be done without strong CASA programs,” said Leslie Dunn, State Director of GAL/CASA. “While we know there is always more work to be done, today we can celebrate the lives that have been impacted as a direct result of having a court appointed special advocate.”