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Editorial: Want to help area children? Become CASA volunteer

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Bartholomew County residents have a tremendous opportunity to help the lives of vulnerable children.

Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteers look out for the best interests of children who have been abused and neglected and help them navigate the court system.

Unfortunately, an increase in the number of children needing this help and a decrease in volunteers has created a waiting list of more than 350 children needing someone to stand up for them. The waiting list has increased by 50 percent since last year.

That’s significant because judges use recommendations by the volunteers to make decisions about the safety and welfare of the children while they are in foster care.

“They provide me with a broad perspective of the child’s education, how they are emotionally and who are essential connections in the child’s life,” said Bartholomew County Juvenile Magistrate Heather Mollo.

About 30 new CASA volunteers have been trained and activated this year, but that’s not enough. Volunteers spend an average of 10 hours per month on their casework and are asked to commit to the completion of at least one case, which can take up to two years.

Being a volunteer requires a commitment of some time, but what better way to donate your energy and talents?

Volunteers don’t need to be legal experts. They receive 30 hours of training and are assigned a staff case coordinator to assist them.

What is needed is a desire to help vulnerable children at critical points in their lives. The help they receive now will shape them as adults. With volunteers looking out for the welfare of the children now, it increases the odds that their futures will be positive.

That benefits each child in need and the community.

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