#CCHACares: Kids' Voice of Indiana

POST DATE: 10.22.21

As we feature yet another amazing community partner, our focus shifts to the kids and families in our community whose voices need to be heard.

Kids’ Voice of Indiana is on a mission to serve Indiana’s children and families by providing legal education, child advocacy, and family visitation through our programs. Further, they strive to promote and represent the best interest of abused, neglected and at-risk children and to serve as an advocate for them and their families. Their holistic approach that includes diligent advocacy of children’s best interests in Court, updated legal information for attorneys, child service professionals, and the community, and providing a safe place for children and parents to spend time together.

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Kids’ Voice of Indiana is also proud to offer legal education, child advocacy, and family visitation through these incredible programs: Derelle Watson-Duvall Children’s Law Center of Indiana, Court Appointed Special Advocates Program, Bette J. Dick Guardian ad Litem for Kids Program, and Jenny Miller Safe Child Parenting Time.

Kids voice

The Derelle Watson-Duvall Children’s Law Center of Indiana:
The Derelle Watson-Duvall Children’s Law Center of Indiana is a private, non-governmental resource center for Indiana legal issues pertaining to children, and is an integral part of Indiana’s family law, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems

The Law Center develops education and related training curriculum, conducts in-depth professional training, and provides educational and technical assistance in a number of key areas of family law and juvenile law.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program:
A CASA is a volunteer who serves as the “voice in court” for a child who has experienced abuse or neglect. Kids’ Voice of Indiana is appointed in all abuse and neglect cases in Marion County when a judge decides the court’s ongoing intervention (and the involvement of the Department of Child Services), is required to keep the child safe. As you can imagine, this is a scary, vulnerable, and complicated time in a child’s life. Our volunteers get to know the child, advocate for their needs, and present their best interests to the judge who is making consequential decisions on the child’s behalf.

The Bette J. Dick Guardian ad Litem for Kids Program:
For over 20 years, Kids’ Voice of Indiana’s GAL Program has represented and protected the best interest of the children in Marion Superior, Probate and Circuit Courts. Kids’ Voice assists victims by serving as the voice for children’s best interests in custody, guardianship, adoption and parenting time cases. The GAL volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court by conducting an extensive review of a child’s life, making evidenced-based recommendations that ensure re-victimization does not occur and advocating for the best interests of a child.

GAL advocates the best interests of a child, which is to be in a safe and secure environment, where healing may take place. Children on these cases are often victims of child neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse or have witnessed substance abuse, criminal activity or domestic violence in their home. The GAL Program Staff assist victims with Victims Compensation by identifying and notifying them of availability, providing information on the process for applying, assistance in filling out the forms, obtaining any necessary documentation, and answering any questions that arise.

  • Attorney - Pro Bono GAL Volunteer - Kids’ Voice offers an opportunity for attorneys located in Marion County and the surrounding counties to serve pro bono as a GAL on Kids’ Voice cases. Attorneys who would like to volunteer can earn up to 7 free hours of CLE by completing the GAL Care training course. The GAL training covers topics such as Dissolution, Paternity, Reporting Child Abuse, Guardianship, Ethics, and the nuts and bolts of being a GAL volunteer. The GAL training is offered throughout the year. Fill out the interest form to learn more.

Jenny Miller Safe Child Parenting Time:
Since 1997, Kids’ Voice has been providing supervised visitation through its Safe Child Parenting Time Program (SCPT). The program was developed at the request of the Marion County Judiciary, after recognizing a need for this service for children and families in Indiana. Since then, Kids’ Voice of Indiana has become one of the premiere abuse and neglect prevention agencies in the state of Indiana, being only one of a few agencies that provides this much needed service.

After hearing evidence in court, families are referred to Kids’ Voice’s SCPT program when a judge has determined the need for a safe, supervised, and neutral environment where the child and non-custodial parent can spend safe and constructive time together. Generally, the visiting parent has exhibited issues with substance abuse, mental health, criminal activity such as domestic violence, inappropriate communication with a child or in the worst cases have somehow abused a child. Supervised parenting time allows for a child to safely visit with a parent and maintain a healthy relationship with both of their parents, while reducing the sense of loss and/or abandonment that children often experience in these cases.

The underlying premise of a supervised parenting time program is to ensure the safety of the child when visiting their parent when the court has determined that parent to be a risk to the child’s safety. With the increase of domestic/family violence and substance abuse, facility-based visitations have become much more prevalent. The premise of the supervised parenting time program is to prevent further crimes and victimization against children. A supervised parenting program affords the child the ability to have a relationship with the non-custodial parent, to observe him or her through their imperfections, and aid in developing healthy parent/child relationships. The benefit of a supervised parenting time program is far-reaching. First, a child is safe from witnessing and/or experiencing further abuse. Second, participation gives them the opportunity to begin the healing process, making them healthier and more productive individuals. Finally, it breaks the cycle of abuse for future generations. The SCPT program has had no incidences of violence or confrontations between custodial and non-custodial parents or between non-custodial parents and children and strives to maintain that goal. Kids’ Voice has perfected the program to ensure the custodial and non-custodial parents do not have to interact and the children are safe and supervised at all times.

CCHA appreciates the amazing work being done by Kids’ Voice of Indiana, recognizing their most recent achievement of becoming the CASA program for Marion County. This means, in addition to their existing programs, they are now also appointed to every child welfare case in Marion County, when the Court determines the child has been abused or neglected. With this transition, the agency has grown from 12 to 95 employees and are now serving over 3,500 of Indianapolis’ most vulnerable children.

CCHA encourages you to get involved, whether through volunteering, making a donation, or attending an upcoming event.