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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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