Starke County’s newest Court Appointed Special Advocate to help kids at risk of abuse and neglect through the court system is already very familiar with the process. Brianna Fletcher was a foster child herself, not too long ago. “When I was nine years old, I was placed into foster care and taken away from my family and actually bounced around several different foster homes – six of them – until I found my forever family here in Knox,” she says. “And after eight months of living there, I got adopted.”
Now, she’s pursuing a college degree in Behavioral Science, and is considering a career in social work or counseling. Fletcher says the CASA program fits well with her careers plans, while her experiences as a foster child mean she’ll have a unique perspective, “I’ll be able to relate to the kids differently than some other CASAs will, and I just look forward to having my first case and being an advocate to the program.”
Fletcher was sworn into Starke County’s CASA program during a ceremony Wednesday, after reaching the required age of 21. Starke County CASA Director Rhonda Adcock says Fletcher will be put to work straight away, due to the rising need for advocates. “The last time I counted, we had 116 Starke County children in care,” Adcock says. “Now, we have 28 CASAs, and they’re spread among all of those children. We have a few that are on the waiting list. We’re probably three months behind on children who need a CASA that don’t yet have a CASA, which we hate to be in that position.”
As their primary duty, CASAs make recommendations to the court, based on the wishes and best interests of the child. Each volunteer attends a nine-week training class and goes through several rounds of background checks.
Adcock says the program is currently taking applications for the next CASA class, which will start in September. For more information, visit the Starke County CASA web page or call 574-772-7200.