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CASA program receives $2 million

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Child Advocates just got big boost in its efforts to help children. To help fund education and recruitment of volunteers who serve as guardian ad litems and child advocates, $2 million from the Marion Superior reserve fund will go to the efforts of Indianapolis-based Child Advocates, officials announced at a press conference today.

Since this summer, when the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled child advocate programs in Indiana should be funded by counties and not necessarily the state, guardian ad litem programs have been seeking ways to cover the costs for representing the community's most vulnerable residents, children in cases of abuse and neglect.

That case, on which the court ruled June 30, was a consolidated appeal of In the Matters of N.S. and J.M.: Indiana Department of Child Services v. T.S. and S.B., and C.L., and B.M., No. 32A05-0902-JV-78.

Child advocates are guaranteed for abused and neglected children by state statute, and the wait can be six to nine months before an advocate is assigned.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said while the funds are not meant to be a long-term solution, it is a step in the right direction even considering the difficult economic climate for the city and the state.

Currently, the backlog for foster children in Marion County waiting to be assigned an advocate is about 800, said Cindy Booth, executive director of Child Advocates. She added a significant backlog has existed since 2005, with a peak of 1,300.

She said other counties around the state with large backlogs are urban areas, such as South Bend, Fort Wayne, and Evansville.

Statewide, at the end of 2008 there were 4,000 outstanding cases, according to a report from Indiana GAL/CASA.

Child Advocates also needs an additional 200 volunteers to help shorten the backlog, Booth said. Having trained lawyers and other legal professionals at downtown Indianapolis law firms in the past, they are in the process of seeking a law firm to host training sessions this spring, she said.

Child Advocates has 10 30-hour trainings beginning in January, she said. Schedules for those trainings are posted on the organization's Web site.

Marion Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores said the work of child advocates is invaluable to the courts, as their research about the children provides information that the courts couldn't otherwise access.

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  1. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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