Pence praises work with children, promises action on drugs

Staff Reports

INDIANAPOLIS — About 15 representatives of the Court-Appointed Special Advocate program serving Bartholomew, Jennings and Decatur counties were part of a crowd of more than 300 rallying at the state capital Monday on behalf of efforts to help Indiana’s victims of child abuse and neglect.

Gov. Mike Pence addressed the crowd and praised them for their work.

He touted the $2 million increase received this year by the state’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program, but reminded the assembled volunteers that there was more than money to be offered to the state’s most vulnerable children, according to a press release by Advocates for Children, which operates the local CASA program.

“It’s about each one of you,” Pence said. “Three-thousand CASA volunteers in 78 Indiana counties that are making the kind of difference that can change lives. That’s how we define success.”

Trained CASA volunteers represent children who have been removed from their homes after becoming the victims of child abuse and neglect.

The volunteers advocate for services and fight to guarantee that the children are placed as quickly as possible in a safe, loving and permanent home.

Pence was joined on the stage by his mother, Nancy Pence-Fritsch of Columbus, who served as a CASA volunteer from 2000 to 2004. During that time, she served as the advocate for seven children.

The governor used the opportunity to speak to the ongoing rise in drug use that has affected communities throughout the state and put increased pressure on the child protective system, in large part due to a record number of children removed from their families in 2015.

“I want to assure you that even in this session (of the General Assembly),” Pence guaranteed, “we’re going to pass measures to go even harder after people who are selling drugs and poisons to our kids. But as all of you know, better than me, we can’t just arrest our way out of this problem.”

About the CASA program

Individuals interested in learning more about the CASA program are encouraged to contact Advocates for Children, a non-profit organization which provides volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocates for children in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties. Information can be found on the agency’s website, apowerfulvoice.org, or by calling the agency’s office at 877-604-9402.

If you go

What: Third Annual Crooners For CASA team-oriented karaoke fundraiser generating money for the local nonprofit Court-Appointed Special Advocates. The agency trains volunteers who represent children in court cases involving neglect or abuse.

When: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. April 9.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus.

Features: Cash bar and DJ Apollo after performances.

Tickets: $50 for individuals, $450 for a table of eight people.

Information: 812-372-2808 or croonersforcasa.com.