New CASA volunteers sworn-in; more needed

Advocates for Children recently welcomed the newest batch of Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers.

John Nickoll, Advocates for Children program director, says the volunteers had to complete a 36-hour training curriculum in order to become volunteers. He explains that their roles are to serve as advocates for area victims of child abuse and neglect. CASA volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the court, making recommendations about what is in the best interest of the children they serve. Nickoll says that these volunteers give these children a voice during their time in the child protection system.

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean,” Nickoll said, quoting Mother Teresa, “But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

Barry Kastner also addressed the group on behalf of Advocates for Children’s Board of Directors. He thanked them and added that being a CASA volunteer carries a deep sense of personal satisfaction. “I think that when you look back over your lives,” Kastner told the volunteers, “that you will come to see this time as one of the most meaningful experiences you have had.”

Before swearing the volunteers in, Bartholomew County Juvenile Magistrate Heather Mollo also took a moment to express her appreciation. “As a Judge, my time with these children is both formal and brief.” She continued, “It is you who provide the essential detail. On behalf of all the Juvenile Judges of the State of Indiana, thank you.”

Rick Scalf, spokesman for Advocates for Children, says this group represents the latest of more than 100 CASA volunteers supervised by the agency in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties. As of October of this year, Scalf says that Advocates for Children had already served 737 children in the region, a 24-percent increase over the same period last year.

Despite this increase, Scalf says that more than 300 abused and neglected children remain on the waiting list in need of advocates. With those children in mind, he says the agency is preparing the next training session, scheduled to begin in January. If you would like to learn more about joining the session and becoming a CASA volunteer, visit, or call 1-(877)-604-9402.