Kids’ Voice receives state GAL/CASA certification

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Kids’ Voice has met the requirements and has been certified as a GAL/CASA service provider by the state, allowing the city of Indianapolis to be partially reimbursed for the nearly three-year $5.4 million contract it awarded the nonprofit in May.

In an announcement Wednesday, Kids’ Voice said it has successfully met the standards and code of ethics established by the State Office of GAL/CASA for guardian ad litem and court appointed special advocate volunteer programs. Also, the nonprofit has been approved by the National CASA/GAL Board of Trustees to be a member of the National CASA/GAL Association.

“While the certification never prohibited us from serving children, we are glad to have the process completed to ensure continued funding from the state and further compliance under our contract,” Lindsay Scott, president and CEO of Kids’ Voice, said. “I am very proud of our team for their hard work to complete this process and the hard work they do every day to serve our most vulnerable children.”

With the certification, state funds will be available to cover part of the cost of the city’s contract. The exact level of reimbursement could not be confirmed by IL deadline.

Indianapolis awarded the contract to Kids’ Voice on May 1 to provide GAL and CASA services for children in abuse and neglect cases in the Marion Superior Courts. While Kids’ Voice was not required to obtain certification, the agreement with the city did require the nonprofit to make all “reasonable efforts” to secure the state office certification promptly.

Kids’ Voice’s certification and affiliation with the National Board of Trustees was described by the city as “welcomed developments.”

“The City commends Kids’ Voice on completing this process,” Indianapolis said in a statement. “While we have been fully confident in Kids’ Voice’s ability to perform these services on behalf of children in Marion County throughout this process, this state-level and national-level recognition further confirms that Kids’ Voice is staying abreast of best practices and professional standards in this field.”

Previously, Child Advocates had been training and overseeing the GALs and CASA volunteers in Marion juvenile court since 1982, but citing cost concerns, the city switched vendors.

The two agencies had tried to reach an agreement to work together, but the negotiations fell apart and Kids’ Voice signed the contract to provide the services through 2023.

Since the beginning of May, Kids’ Voice has grown from 25 to 95 state members. The organization is training volunteers, then matching them with a child.

No child ever went without an advocate during the transition of service providers, according to Kids’ Voice. The agency stated more than 86% of the children maintained their same guardian ad litem. Also, many of the remaining 14% retained the same CASA volunteer.

The agency’s first new CASA volunteers were sworn in Oct. 5.

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