Jefferson Circuit Judge D.J. Mote sees hope for children who have experienced abuse, abandonment or neglect when there are caring adult advocates in their lives. That was the message emphasized Saturday in a event organized by CASA of Jefferson County, Foster Success, Healthy Communities of Jefferson County and Resilient Jefferson County.
Mote said the legal system sees children “in the most serious cases of maltreatment in which they’re most at risk.” That contributes to a troubled life and makes them less likely to be successful “because of the cards that were dealt them at no fault of their own. The work we are doing on a daily basis is critical because we have an opportunity to intervene in their lives as soon as we can, and try to have a positive impact on their lives.”
With the attorneys and case workers bound by requirements of law, Mote said CASA provides a Court Appointed Special Advocate who goes to court with the children and helps them with their testimony. He said those CASA volunteers are able to advocate for the children in ways that others aren’t able to, adding that there are other counties and other states “where there is no one whose job it is to speak on behalf of the child … We’re so lucky to have this organization. The children are so better served to have this organization, and to have somebody in court to do this job.”
Mote said the work of CASA volunteers is difficult but they give the “children something they desperately need, and that is hope.”
That can make a huge difference as the children are less likely be victims of repeat neglect, less likely to drop out of school and have a higher graduation rate, less likely to fall victim to substance abuse and less likely to become homeless.
Foster Success is the only non-profit in Indiana that helps youth ages 14 to 26 in the transition from foster care into adulthood through a variety of programs that provide guidance of finances, education, workforce and active engagement critical to growth and success. Three of those older youths participated in Saturday’s program.
“They are really remarkable,” said Angel Crone, senior director of Impact and Programming for Foster Success. “They have gone through a lot of hard things that nobody should have to go through at young ages” but through the support they received, they are building lives for themselves.
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