A new program is serving children waiting for a Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocate with home visits.
Kristin Bishay, Monroe County CASA director, said more than 60 of the 82 children currently on the waiting list now receive an in-home visit once a month. That wait list number is the lowest it's been in years, down from 129 from the beginning of this year.
"That's amazing. Before this program, they were just on that wait list and we had no idea what was going on with that child," Bishay said. "The whole point of this program was to get eyes on the child and understand their needs and get them more comfortable with CASA as an organization. So when they do get a CASA, that transition is that much smoother."
The child visit monitoring program started earlier this year with help from the Indiana State Office of CASA. Bishay said the program was created to address the high number of children waiting for CASA volunteers. These volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings.
Monroe County CASA currently serves 419 children, and has served 653 kids so far this year. It's an increase from past years, as the demand for CASA's services and other programs that serve vulnerable children continue to grow.
From 2015 to 2016, the number of Monroe County children in need of services from the Indiana Department of Child Services increased by 87 percent — a spike from 201 to 376 in just one year, according to the Indiana Youth Institute's 2018 Kids Count Data Book. By the end of 2017, the number jumped to 459, according to a DCS report.