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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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