The Franklin County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program was formed in 2013. Aimee Reese was named its director.
The program in the county began in 1978 “when then Franklin County Circuit Judge Gene Stewart asked Tri Kappa Sorority (members) to become CASA volunteers,” the Brookville resident reports.
“At that time, CASA programs were not required to be certified through the Indiana State Supreme Court. Several sorority members, including Delores Dobbs, went through the training and became volunteers. However, for the last dozen years, Mrs. Dobbs has been the only CASA volunteer in the county. After more than 30 years of protecting kids, she retired Dec. 31.
“We obtained our Indiana State Office of Guardian ad Litem/CASA Certificate and have our provisional National CASA Association Membership. The Franklin County CASA program officially began advocating for abused and/or neglected children Jan. 1.
“CASAs are volunteers who are appointed by judges in child abuse and neglect cases to research the case, review documents, interview people and make a report to the court as to what is in the best interest of abused and/or neglected children in terms of services, placement, visitation, reunification and permanency. CASA volunteers are typically the only voice for children in these cases as Indiana law doesn’t require an attorney to be appointed for children in CHINS (Child In Need of Services) cases.
“CASA volunteers ... are objective, community volunteers who are not part of the child welfare system, who focus their efforts solely on gathering information and making recommendations regarding the children ... who would otherwise have no voice. CASA volunteers have a completely different role than the Department of Child Services case manager in that their primary focus is not working with the parents to resolve their issues; instead, the CASA volunteer focuses solely on the needs and wishes of the child while they are in foster care and for permanency.”