There has been an increase in the number of Indiana children who end up in the court system because of abuse and neglect. In 2014, there were 14,000 "child in need of service" cases. That number went up to 20,000 in 2016.
And while there are more than 4,000 special court advocates in the state for these children ‒ many are still waiting for help.
“There is an overall increase need for volunteer advocates for children who are in a situation where they are in court because of abuse or neglect,” says Kathryn Dolan with the Indiana Supreme Court.
Court Appointed Special Advocates work with judges and courts, with the child's best interest in mind to place them in permanent and safe homes.
“We want in our state for these children to have an advocate ‒ a voice-something who is looking out for their best interest and of course some of these cases are more challenging than others," Dolan says. "But we have a wonderful support network across the state that provide the training and all the information needed in order for an individual to learn more about becoming an advocate.”
There are some counties with a much longer waiting list than others.
“The state does have certain counties that have a larger waiting list for children. Delaware County, as well as Madison County, Lawrence County, St. Joseph County and Vanderburgh County have lists with hundreds of children who are waiting for an advocate,” Dolan says.
Officials say the surge of children in need could be blamed on the state's drug epidemic.
Anyone interested in learning more about advocating for an abused or neglected child can call 1-800-542-0813 for more information.