The CASA of Ohio Valley program is of enormous benefit to child victims of abuse and neglect in Daviess County, Kentucky. This statement is as true today as it was when CASA first came to our community.
As a District Judge, I preside over Daviess County Juvenile Drug Court and direct the Daviess County Model Court Project, which aims to improve outcomes for cases involving abused and neglected children, juvenile offenders and their families. I am a member of Daviess County’s Race, Community and Child Welfare Committee, the Kentucky Juvenile Justice Oversight Council, and the state Juvenile Justice Advisory Board’s Subcommittee for Equity and Justice for All Youth.
Families in crisis come through my courtroom daily. While attorneys are assigned or hired to represent adults in the court, it is the children from these families that need a voice. Although child victims of abuse and neglect are appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL), often that attorney has little or no contact with the child, and Social Services are overwhelmed and overworked. CASA advocates provide a unique service to these children. They are able to give each case individualized attention. They come to know these children and their families and situations better than anyone else in the court system.
Because of the training given to the CASA advocates and their ability to spend so much time with the families and children, the recommendations and reports submitted to me by CASA volunteer advocates are invaluable as I assess how to best serve each child victim. The Court's goal is to place a child victim in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. The highly personalized and specific recommendations that I receive from CASA help me make the best decisions possible.
I am grateful that we have CASA of Ohio Valley in our community, and only wish that they could provide more volunteer advocates to help even more child victims of abuse and neglect. CASA volunteers take to heart that these children and families belong to our community and it takes a community, not just a court system, to help them reach their potential.
The Honorable Lisa J. Payne
District Court Judge
Daviess County Kentucky