ILNews

GAL/CASA program teams with retired educators

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Children in the Indiana court system are about to have many more allies thanks to the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. The organization announced this morning it has chosen the Indiana Supreme Court's GAL/CASA program as its new volunteer project.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana Retired Teachers Association Executive Director Ralph Ayers, and others involved in the project were on hand in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom to explain the project and thank the IRTA for becoming involved.

The rigors of the court process are difficult for children, and they need someone to pay attention to their needs, Chief Justice Shepard said. More than 2,000 volunteers were trained to help 17,000 kids in the state last year, and efforts are underway to increase the level of commitment to Indiana's children in need.

Volunteers undergo 30 hours of training to become a CASA and have ongoing training yearly. Chief Justice Shepard said two-thirds of Indiana counties currently use CASAs for children, and counties with smaller caseloads often appoint guardian ad litems to represent children.

Ayers described the project as a natural fit for Indiana's active and retired teachers, given the years of experience they have working with children from various backgrounds.

"We felt for our organization, we want to promote our members to continue to be involved in committing to help children," Ayers said.

The IRTA has 23,000 members that have volunteered more than 1 million hours in each of the past three years.

Ayers said the focus of the IRTA and the Indiana Supreme Court's GAL/CASA program now is to train people and identify which counties have the strongest need for volunteers.
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