The first volunteer program serving abused and neglected children was organized in 1977 in Seattle Washington. In 1982, the National CASA Association was established to serve as an umbrella organization for the growing number of programs in the country.
The growth and development of the CASA movement in Indiana can be attributed to the initiation of the Law and Child Protection Project in 1982. The project was designed to promote, develop and implement county child advocacy programs, and to train the volunteers and attorneys who worked within the programs. The Indiana Office of Guardian Ad Litem and Court Appointed Special Advocates was created by statute in July of 1989.
The Bartholomew County Youth Advocacy Commission was created in 1982, as a result of increasing juvenile delinquency in Bartholomew County. The commission hired a Youth Advocate to network among youth-serving agencies to identify gaps and barriers in services to children. The Youth Advocate frequently assumed the role of a CASA in the Bartholomew County Juvenile Court.
In 1987, the Bartholomew Circuit Court and the Youth Advocacy Commission established the CASA Program, with the first volunteer training held in September of that year.
The Bartholomew County CASA Program became CASA of South Central Indiana in 1990, after the Indiana General Assembly mandated the appointment of an advocate for the child in certain kinds of abuse and neglect cases. This legislation led to the formation of the regional program, with Shelby County joining the program in 2001.
In February 2004, with the advent of a new national logo, CASA of South Central Indiana became Advocates for Children. In 2005, the Indiana legislature mandated the appointment of an advocate for every abused and neglected child involved in a court proceeding. Effective in 2008, Shelby County separated from Advocate for Childrens and is operating independently. The current program serves children in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties.
In addition to the volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates, Advocates for Children staff consists of an Executive Director, Program Director, Community Outreach Coordinator, four Case Coordinators, an Office Manager, and a Training
Coordinators. The volunteer staff are responsible for directly working with the children and families. The paid staff are responsible for public relations/recruitment; the screening, training, supervision and support of the CASA volunteers; volunteer recognition; community networking; program development, and fundraising. Advocates for Children has access to pro bono legal services as needed.