Consider being a volunteer for CASA , helping a child in need

The Advocates for Children organization that is serving neglected and abused children in Bartholomew County has made tremendous strides in protecting the legal interests of children in at-risk homes where social services have been forced to step in.

That’s good news, but also imperative because of the challenges the organization faces.

The prevalence of drug abuse by parents continues to grow, requiring more assistance through the volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program. A CASA represents the bests interests of a child or children in a case in the legal system, and sees it through to completion. The goal is to make the home stable and suitable for the reunification of child and parents.

However, the growing abuse of heroin, methamphetamine and opioids makes that a greater challenge than ever before. The number of children needing assistance has nearly doubled in the past five years, increasing from 225 to 436 between 2012 and 2016.

Unfortunately, the number of CASA volunteers hasn’t kept pace, meaning too many children are on waiting lists for that help. As of March 31, 274 children in Bartholomew County were waiting for a CASA.

The good news is, you can help and make a difference.

For people 21 and older who are willing and able to invest about 10 hours a month on the average, huge personal rewards accompany the individual investment of becoming a CASA — with the biggest payoff being the smiles on the faces of children who know that adults are looking out for them.

Six new CASA volunteers were welcomed into the program Tuesday. Consider becoming the next one.

How to help

To become a Court Appointed Special Advocate, first go to the CASA link on the Advocates for Children website, apowerfulvoice.org/casa. Then complete the online form and submit it.

For more information: apowerfulvoice.org, or 812-372-2808.