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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  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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