The Marshall County Commissioners approved the usage of a portion of their American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds and Unrestricted Opioid Settlement Funds to keep the county’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program operational for the rest of this year and into 2025.

Chastity Keller, Director of CASA told the Commissioners on Monday that the program will run out of money in September or October.  She said over the past several years they had to dip into their reserve funds to keep the program operational because the state’s funding has been insufficient.  This year Marshall County only received $4,300 and with the county’s required match of 85% which was about $3,000 that gave the program just over $7,000. The annual program cost is about $60,000.

Keller said the county’s numbers of children needing services were reduced during COVID which had a negative impact on the state’s funding.  She also told the commissioners that the Department of Child Services has modified their programs and now works to keep children in their homes with their families more than in years past.   The CASA Director said 2023 ended up with 33 children receiving services and right now in 2024 there are already 21 children receiving services. 

The County’s APR Committee met earlier this month and heard Keller’s request for funding assistance using the county’s ARP Funds.  The committee’s recommendation to the commissioners was to use $25,317.70 in the Opioid Settlement funds and $20,000 of APR Funds. 

In April of 2023 Circuit Court Judge Curt Palmer announced his retirement date as March 31,2024.  The Circuit Court Judge oversees the CASA Program in Marshall County and during Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Stan Klotz said once the new judge is appointed, they can work towards a permanent funding solution for CASA funding.      

Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said he prefers funding the CASA Program in the General Fund as it has been in the past.  He felt that would be the best long-term solution.  Overmyer said the ARP Committee recommendation is just a “band aid” solution but understands the importance of CASA so he made the motion to accept the ARP Committee’s recommendation. Commissioner Klotz also voted for the recommendation.  Commissioner Mike Burroughs was absent from the meeting.