Eight new volunteers have joined an organization that is trying to serve a record number of abused and neglected children in the area.

Lisa Prentiss, Avril Schutte, Elizabeth Holzhausen, Neile McQueen, Shelby Earnhart, Matthew Thompson and Eric Joslin completed a six-week training course that qualifies them to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers for Advocates for Children.

The new advocates were sworn in by Bartholomew County Juvenile Magistrate Heather Mollo on Sept. 5.

They’ll serve children in Bartholomew and Jennings counties. Their role is put the best interests of the child first during the court process.

“When a child has an advocate, the impact can be life defining. These children tend to do better with their peers, improve their interactions with their peers, and have better access to vital services during their time in the child protection system. Most importantly, having an advocate gives these children the best chance to move as quickly as possible into a permanent family setting,” Rick Scalf, Community Outreach Coordinator for Advocates for Children, said in a news release.

Advocates for Children Executive Director Therese Miller said in a news release that by the halfway point of this year the agency had already served 765 children.

“That’s more children than we reached in the first three quarters of last year,” Miller said.

However, another 300 children await advocates, so the community needs more volunteers, she added.

Advocates for Children is offering one final training session this year, starting Sept. 26, for anyone interested in joining the CASA program.

For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer, contact Advocates for Children by calling the office at 812-372-2808 or toll-free at 877-604-9402, or going online at apowerfulvoice.org.