TERRE HAUTE —
Who speaks for the children?
The children with parents who neglect, abuse or abandon them? The children who have been placed in foster homes, or who have been returned to adults with poor parenting skills or drug addictions?
In many cases — for 547 children so far this year — the person speaking on behalf of the children in Vigo County is a Court Appointed Special Advocate or a CASA.
Vigo County now has 123 active CASA volunteers serving 407 children.
But 128 children who need advocates have none because there are not enough volunteers. Instead, those 128 children are on the waiting list to have a CASA assigned to them, Nineteen more are waiting to be added to the waiting list.
CASA volunteer recruiter and trainer Ginger Bedford hopes to change that shortage..
“Picture, if you will, 142 children standing in your lobby,” Bedford said as an illustration of the youths needing help. “This is more than some churches have on a Sunday morning. This is almost four classrooms at any given school.”
Bedford hopes that people with a few extra hours a month will decide to make a difference for a child by taking the 30-hour training and then making at least one in-person visit per month to check on the child.
Debbie Pepelea is one CASA volunteer who told the Tribune-Star that she is glad she made the commitment two summers ago.
“As a CASA volunteer, we are focused on the needs of the children,” Pepelea said. “Getting them help to cope with what is happening, especially if the children have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Learning about their circumstances. Getting to know their family members. We have to ask ourselves, ‘What can I do to help this child?’”
Obvious needs are food, clothing and shelter. But some parents also lack parenting skills necessary to make sure their children go to doctor appointments, or take medicine as prescribed or go to parent-teacher conferences.
In some cases, the reason for removing a child from a home was the deplorable living conditions of the dwelling. In other cases, it is because the parents have issues of their own that hinder them from taking care of their children.
In the first six months of 2014, the county has seen 160 new filings for Children In Need of Services, or CHINS, cases. All of those children must have a CASA assigned to their cases, according to a state mandate. In the same six-month time frame, 547 children have received services.
CASA director Nikki Fuhrmeister said that growth in numbers already comes close to eclipsing last year’s total of 618 children who were served in a full 12 months.
Fuhrmeister said she is proud of CASA volunteers who have stepped up and taken on more cases to make sure children are represented in court proceedings.
Bedford is handling six cases with a total of 10 children. She began volunteering after being retired for eight years, and now she works 16 hours in the week coordinating and recruiting more volunteers.
“As a CASA, we are probably the most consistent person in that child’s life,” she said.
She makes home visits, and she has even accompanied some parents with the child to appointments to make sure of the instructions for the child’s care. She then relays that information to the court.
Bedford said she is also willing to speak to organizations and churches about the CASA program to recruit new volunteers.
Pepelea said she has enjoyed her two years of volunteering.
“As a volunteer we are asked to check on the children we have on a monthly basis,” she said. “I seem to check on my ‘kids’ more often than that, but that’s my choice. I have fallen in love with each and every one of my kids so far, in one way or another. They have all been special and unique in their own way.”
128 children are waiting for court advocates
TERRE HAUTE —
Who speaks for the children?
- Local & Bistate
Union Hospital cuts to come from support staff
The reduction of 150 employees in Union Health System by the end of this year will come from support staff, employees who do not have direct patient care duties, hospital administrators said today.
Ex-employee says prison workers had sex on desk
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Indiana’s prison agency mistreated a female employee when it shrugged off her complaints about workers having sex on her desk and later fired her for having an affair with an official.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 23, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.
Police say 2 killed in SW Indiana murder-suicide
BICKNELL, Ind. (AP) — Police say a man was fatally shot during an argument in a southwestern Indiana town and that the suspected gunman later killed himself while officers were pursuing him.
10-year-old bicyclist dies after truck hits him
WINONA LAKE, Ind. (AP) — Police in northern Indiana say a 10-year-old boy died after being hit by a pickup truck while riding a bicycle.
Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature
Ella Boyles, 3, watches as her grandmother Verdeana Boyles starts a flower arrangement during the JMG! Jammin! Muddin! & Growin! Jr. Master Gardener Program on Tuesday at the west branch of the Vigo County Public Library in West Terre Haute.
Study finds school scores rising — poverty too
While Vigo County’s educational scores outperform the state average, schools are seeing the impact of an increase in the number of children living in poverty, according to the national Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 “Kids Count.”
No more teacher-led prayer in Vigo schools
As the result of a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Vigo County School Corp. teachers and other staff will no longer be able to lead prayers during school-sponsored events.
Vigo school board candidate filing period begins today
Four of seven Vigo County School Board seats are up for election this year.
Six hurt in pickup crash on I-70
An accident on Interstate 70 that injured six people Tuesday afternoon is being attributed to mechanical failure.
Cops know where hoax call came from — next is who made it
Police have identified the location from which a bomb threat was made and mentioning The Meadows shopping center.
Parties fill openings on fall ballots
The face of the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election has changed slightly after a July 15 deadline for major parties to nominate candidates and independent candidates to file for positions that were left vacant after the May primary election.
Motorcyclist critical from head trauma after crashing bike
A Vigo County man remained hospitalized Tuesday in critical condition following a motorcycle accident on Monday evening.
Greene County woman dies from motorcycle wreck injuries
A Linton woman has died as the result of a motorcycle crash on Monday in Greene County on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
Man whose body found in trailer identified; how he died still undetermined
The body discovered inside a trailer in Montgomery County last month has been identified as a man whose last known address was in Clinton.
Vigo schools miss out on preschool programs for low-income students
Vigo County schools were not selected, but schools in Indiana’s three most populous counties were among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Drowning confirmed as cause of death at Raccoon Lake
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful after his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
WTH house fire under investigation
No injuries were reported in a West Terre Haute house fire that is under investigation.
Body found in trailer identified as Vermillion County man
Authorities have identified the person whose body was discovered last month in a trailer that had recently been moved from Vermillion County. Indiana State Police, using DNA testing, identified the body as that of Shane L. Sowers, 41, whose last known address was on North Sixth Street in Clinton
Driver charged in Will County crash that killed 4
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — A semitrailer driver involved in crash that killed four people southwest of Chicago was driving too fast and falsified entries in a logbook tracking the number of hours he spent behind the wheel, authorities said today.
Indiana chooses 5 counties for preschool program
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s three most populous counties are among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Update: Bomb threat suspect placed call from pay phone
Police have identified the location from where a bomb threat was made referencing The Meadows shopping center.
Update: Man critical following Vigo motorcycle crash
A Vigo County man remains hospitalized in critical condition following a Monday evening motorcycle accident.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 22, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.
Indiana makes marginal improvement in ‘Kids Count’
A new national report says the well-being of Indiana’s children has improved somewhat, but improvement in a key area might be overstated because of a quirk in the state’s reading rules.
Lowe’s expected to announce Indianapolis facility
Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s is expected to announce what state officials are calling a major development in Indianapolis.
Motorcyclist airlifted after Vigo County crash
A motorcycle crash in southern Vigo County remains under investigation.
Fire damages West Terre Haute house
A West Terre Haute house fire is under investigation.
Passenger dies in Greene County motorcycle wreck
A Linton woman has died in a Monday motorcycle crash on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
UPDATE: Man dies in Raccoon Lake drowning
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful following his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Union Hospital cuts to come from support staff