INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Navigating your way through the judicial system can be an intimidating and daunting process. Now, imagine being a child. That's why children going through the court system in Indiana are required to have someone represent them.
"In 2005, our state legislators decided that every child involved in a "CHINS" case, a child in need of services case, shall have a guardian or CASA," explains Cindy Booth/Executive Director, Child Advocates.
CASA stands for court-appointed special advocate. At the "Child Advocates" office on the north side of Indianapolis, the offices are filled with pictures and artwork from children it has represented. The power of this non-profit agency is reflected in the number of volunteers but it doesn't even match the number of children that need your help.
There are about 400 volunteers to help some 5,000 children in Marion County a year. Many are abuse and neglect or custody cases.
"They are a community volunteer. They don't have to be there, they want to be there and they are committed to children and they come to the child's door and say what can I tell the judge about you. That's a very powerful message to send to a child who is probably not feeling very empowered at that moment," said Cindy Booth/Executive Director, Child Advocates.
To become a CASA, you do not need any legal experience but extensive training is provided.
- Be at least 21 years old
- Pass a criminal background check
- Attend 30 hours of training
- Have excellent communication skills
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