EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Vanderburgh County CASA is made up of volunteers who represent children of child abuse in court. Despite each volunteer handling 20 to 25 cases at once, there are still nearly 400 children on the wait list.
That wait list is fluid, as CASA is currently serving nearly 400 children. We are told it is a constant battle to have enough volunteers advocating for kids, and that it is difficult to attract and retain good social workers.
CASA Executive Director Suzanne Draper tells us case managers are under a high level of stress, every day dealing with families in crisis and putting out fires fueled by substance abuse and domestic violence. Their case loads are large, due in part Draper says to more accurate reporting.
“This community does a really good job at reporting abuse and neglect, and I think that stems from Department and Child Services getting that hotline number out there and telling people, 'If you suspect anything, call this hotline, and we will go out and investigate. It’s not up to the individuals in our community to do it because they’re not trained. Just like it’s not up to CASA volunteers to investigate abuse and neglect,” says Draper.
Vanderburgh County CASA supports the abused and neglected children as their cases travel through the court system.
If a child is involved in our juvenile court and the family wants to move out of town or or of the state, then Draper says there’s communication with that other state to make sure the children don’t fall through the cracks.
“It’s called an Interstate Compact, and it’s a lot of paperwork and it is trying to make sure that the kids are going to be safe if they go to a relative out of state or if the parents end up moving," said Draper.
Draper says DCS handles the investigation and removal if necessary.
Child abuse rate in Indiana and Kentucky in 2017 was more than double the national average. Of course, every state uses different methods for reporting.
Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-800-5556