News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 8, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: April 8, 2013

The Tribune-Star

---- — Vigo County’s CASA, children need volunteers

April is National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month. Vigo County Court Appointed Advocates (CASA) reminds our community of our collective responsibility that will impact the safety and well-being of all children.

Vigo County is blessed in services and programs that are available to assist families, and it takes the whole community to step up to protect our most vulnerable asset, our children.

CASA is a unique program that provides a voice for abused and neglected children once a case demands court intervention. In 2012, more than 500 children entered the juvenile court system as CHINS (Children In Need of Services) alone. Our court system is not designed to raise children, but to intervene for a short period of time to help determine the best, safest and permanent solution for these children.

A CASA volunteer is appointed by a judge to prevent possible further harm and is trained to speak for the rights of a child to help determine the best interest of the child. Vigo County CASA has just completed its second training class of the year, but, unfortunately, there is still a waiting list of more than 60 children because there aren’t enough CASA volunteers. This quarter alone, 88 new children have come into the juvenile court system through no fault of their own. That is compared with 76 the same time period of 2012.

Every child has the right to live in a safe, nurturing environment and have an opportunity to live an enriched life. While no one can do everything, everyone can do something, and together we can do anything for our future community leaders.

If this program isn’t the right fit for you, then there are other opportunities in our community: become a mentor, a foster grandparent, volunteer at a local school or just help a neighbor in need.

Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness is ongoing at the Vigo County CASA office, not just during the month of April. Please consider helping a child. You could be the missing piece in that child’s life. You, too, can say along with other CASA volunteers, “I am for the child.”

Please show your support by attending the Candlelight Vigil on April 22, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. It will be held on the courthouse lawn and is a partnership between CASA, Children’s Bureau and Victim’s Crime Assistance.

Please contact us at 812-231-5658 to arrange a speaking engagement, to receive information about volunteering or visit our website at if you would like to volunteer time to help a child.

— Nikki Fuhrmeister

Vigo County CASA

Intolerance does not help our state

It’s no secret that Indiana suffers from a “brain drain.” On the basis of bachelor’s degrees conferred, Indiana resides among the elite 30 percent of states. However, highly educated Hoosiers have employment options, and many skilled professionals have opted to leave the state. Moreover, the loss of home-grown talent has not been offset by an influx of professionals from other states. As a result, Indiana dwells among the 10 states with the least educated populations.  

Part of the imbalance can be attributed to the shortage of employment opportunities in Indiana. However, employers in Indiana regularly complain that many jobs go unfilled because Hoosiers lack the necessary skills and education. Thus, the high unemployment rate in Indiana may simply reflect the unwillingness of businesses to locate where there is not a highly educated workforce.

Is Indiana fostering a “brain drain” by its penchant for alienating entire populations?  

To circumvent the fact that abortion is legal in the United States, Indiana has resorted to harassing women who wish to exercise a legal right. The harassment du jour involves ultrasounds that are medically unnecessary, highly invasive and expensive. The harassment does not change the law, but it likely alienates educated women with options.

Indiana law defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Public opinion favors same-sex marriage, so it is likely that this law already alienates a segment of the professional population that is much larger than just gays and lesbians. Does Indiana really need to broadcast its intolerance by voting to enshrine it in the state constitution?

Bashing labor unions is great political fodder in Indiana, but unions represent skilled workers and professionals. After seeing teachers scapegoated for all the ills that plague education, will the very best of the new graduates choose to teach in Indiana? Will the number of skilled tradesmen decline when union training no longer leads to better wages? Cheapening knowledge is not the same as being fiscally conservative, and it clearly alienates professionals.

Indiana has much to offer, but its “brain drain” will only accelerate if the state continues to denigrate large groups of people.

— Jim Hughes

Terre Haute