Victims advocates need volunteers

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Practically every day, news stories about children who have been abused or neglected appear in the nation's newspapers and on television newscasts.

Horrific stories of children who were mistreated by the very people they were supposed to have been able to trust to love, nurture and keep them safe are splashed across the Internet with alarming regularity.

Unfortunately, some of those stories happen right here in Putnam County.

"Each week the Putnam County courts and the Indiana Department of Child Services in Putnam County are faced with the overwhelming responsibility to protect children," said Patti Harmless of the Putnam County Youth Development Commission. "The court recognizes that children thrown into the legal system need their own special voice. That special voice and representative is a CASA volunteer."

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. The Putnam County Youth Development Commission facilitates the Putnam County CASA program.

"We are dedicated to the mission of this program by ensuring that the best interests of abused and neglected children are presented in court," Harmless said.

The CASA program matches adults with children who are involved with court proceedings, was created as a national program in 1977. CASAs are trained community volunteers appointed by the juvenile court judges to advocate on behalf of children to make sure their best interests are served in court proceedings.

A CASA keeps up with a child's case as it proceeds though the system, making sure children end up in safe homes. Volunteers spend hours researching the cases of the children they are charged with representing, learning details about the child's situation and needs, then goes to court to make recommendations on what will benefit the child most in his or her future.

All CASA volunteers are trained in courtroom procedure, child development and the juvenile justice system. Volunteers receive training in general operations of the Department of Child Services, as they serve Children in Need of Services (CHIINS).

The special needs of abused and neglected children are addressed with ongoing training. Before he or she can be matched, a CASA volunteer will have gone through 30 hours of training.

Putnam County CASA is currently in need of new volunteers. Training will begin in October, and applications are now being accepted.

Any Putnam County resident who is interested in becoming a CADA should contact Harmless at 653-9342 to learn more about the application and interview process.

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    -- Posted by Michele1953 on Wed, Sep 17, 2008, at 10:02 PM
  • So many kids are let down, not just parents but by the system as well. I don't think people who work in the courts should be discussing to everyone in public what goes on. I know for a fact one of them tells peoples private matters and I hope they get caught. I do know one gal who is trying to raise her kids with out any help from the father or any assistance. she works full time and walks to a local factory everyday. She has a sitter and her child was sick the other day and her nosey and mean neighbor lied and said she was not changing the baby's diaper. How would a neighbor know when you change a baby's diaper?? Their was no rash and I think this mom has gotten her life in order. They system will go after a gal like that but keep a child who is neglected or being abused in a home then you let them down. This girl goes to church weekly and she has her church support. I hope these kids get to be with thier Mom, It's bad enough for her being a working single mom and to add more trouble by evil people who want to break her heart and put her kids in foster care. The state sure doesn't mind paying those folks money. HMM! one might think they do it to make a living only.

    -- Posted by savethekids on Thu, Sep 18, 2008, at 8:48 AM
  • There are many who like to complain about the system in regard to children. Every government agency has guidelines they have to follow. Wouldn't it be better for a child to be removed from a home for suspected neglect than to be left there when real neglect was going on? The child can always be returned to the home, but a neglected child may not live to see tomorrow.

    The CASA program is a very important one. I wish that more people with time on their hands would become involved in it. A few hours a day could make a big difference in a child's quality of life.

    -- Posted by cloverlady on Thu, Sep 18, 2008, at 6:12 PM
  • The State does not look out for every child, some they dismiss and they are the ones who suffer. I have worked in education for 20 plus years and In all my years I have had a few children who needed help, In fact I remember a case where a child told me her Daddy slept in her bed with her at night after Mommy went to sleep and he would get naked and tell her they were wrestling. You could have imagined my horror to hear this, I was sick to my stomach over it and it broke my heart.She then told the state worker more graphic details of this CPS spoke with the child and the child and siblings were going through this alone for years together. It took 7 years and massive mental damage to finally get this man convicted because the courts took their time and would not remove the children from this home. He is now a registered sex offender and has many counts against him and of course he did not serve hardly any time. That's the things I am talking about what about those kids? I have seen kids come to school filthy and the parents look dirty too but I see bonds and can tell even though they may not keep house like you and I that is not a reason to turn them in. I agree they need more casa workers but they need ones that are in this for the love of a child , which I think most care it's the courts that don't care torment them by constantly changing them from place to place. I have seen it all, I have seen some try to pull the wool over one's eyes but my point is this. I have seen this young mother I know help out recently and I know she is trying I know she has a past she has shared her sins and It was not easy for her to tell all. I also know that their is a woman who wants to adopt this child badly and that is great their are people that love children like that. I also know the lady that wants this little guy has connections to the courts and it was horrible that this was done in such a sneaky and evil way. May God have mercy on your souls. My point is this, to the courts and CPS ,start using time on real cases when a childs life does need care. If you think it's so bad why do you send them back over and over again to the same bad place why?? I am in way saying all foster homes are bad but this is their bread and butter most of them have more than money than a small town banker. They get this from the state, but I have not seen the state help too many working single mothers. I also know through sports programs at the schools that some and not all just a few of the foster kids are home schooled and only mingle with the children they live with. They are isolated, it may protect some but isolate some from telling what is going on where they are at. Maybe I don't know this young lady's whole story but I do know other children's and the state has let them down plenty. I think the states hiring of new cps workers is great if they get to working and actually help children. Moms and even some grandparents raising grandchildren on limited income could use a hand I am sure. Casa workers are great I was in no way putting them down but trying to embrace the reality of the states welfare system.

    -- Posted by savethekids on Thu, Sep 18, 2008, at 7:48 PM
  • Someone who has worked in education for 20 plus years should be able to write a more coherent comment. The court system, just like the education system, is not perfect. There are many things that have to occur before a child can be removed from a parent and placed in foster care. Despite what CPS does, the judge has the final decision about whether a child is separated from his/her parent and, if removed, where that child will live. If you are unhappy with the system, volunteer to be a CASA and use the opportunity to have a positive effect on a child's life and change the system from within.

    -- Posted by piglet1129 on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 11:07 PM
  • Some people just can't do any better because of economic stress or physical and mental disabilities. But when their children are fed,clothed, loved and cared for the best way parents can do, how does that give certain wolf's in sheep's clothing the right to interfere? Is it true concern or job security? Give the families the money that foster parents are paid and the resources to help them become better parents.

    -- Posted by sisterrose812 on Thu, Oct 9, 2008, at 7:04 PM
  • There are some evil people in Putnam County agencies that need to do their job and protect children truly in need and quit witch hunting to justify their employment. The foster care system needs revamped to prevent certain people from trying to get little cash cows in their homes so they don't have to work anywhere else. Please do not warehouse the children of Putnam County and pat yourself on the back and say "My I really did a good job today."

    -- Posted by sisterrose812 on Fri, Oct 10, 2008, at 2:54 AM
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