Allen County CASA director announces retirement

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News release from the Allen Superior Court, Family Relations Division:

Allen County CASA director announces retirement

(June 4, 2014) – The Allen Superior Court announced today the retirement of Rex McFarren as the director of the Allen County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA). The local CASA program is a national and state certified program that provides volunteer court advocates for children who are victims of abuse or neglect. McFarren has served as the court’s first director and has been responsible for the CASA program since 1985.

Indiana law requires that the court appoint a CASA volunteer or a Guardian ad Litem for every abused and neglected child named in a court proceeding. Following a training curriculum, CASA volunteers make home visits and meet with the children for whom they have been appointed. Under the supervision of McFarren or one of his staff members, the volunteer appears in court and makes recommendations for welfare and best interests of a child.

Funded in part by local tax dollars, McFarren organized the Allen County CASA Coalition, Inc. to raise additional funds to help children in need. He has also maintained the integrity of the program so that Allen County could receive grant funds from state and national sources for the twenty-nine years he has served as director.

Under McFarren’s leadership, the Allen County’s CASA program was recognized with the Indiana Governor’s Exemplary Project Award. He was personally recognized with a Citation for Excellence from the Alfred Adler Institute in 1997 and the Allen County, Indiana Bar Association presented McFarren with the Liberty Bell Award in 1999. Former Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman awarded him with a Partners in Progress Award in 2010 and most recently, in September of last year, he was named as the Indiana CASA Director of the year. McFarren has been the longest serving CASA Director in the state.

From 1992-1995 McFarren served as a member of Indiana Supreme Court Advisory Commission on GAL/CASA. In April 1992 he was appointed by Governor Evan Bayh to serve on the Governor’s Commission on Abuse and Neglected Children and their Families.

Judge Charles Pratt stated that, “Rex has given tirelessly to this community and is respected across the state as an expert in the area of child protection. He has made a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of children.”
McFarren has employed unique marketing campaigns, personal involvement and professional relationships to secure local CASA volunteers. In his 29 years of service he has secured over 850 volunteers for the protection of the most vulnerable children in the county. Because volunteers can be substituted for court paid attorneys, the local CASA program has saved the local the Allen County tax payers about one million dollars over McFarren’s tenure as director.

Judge Pratt stated that in 1985 retired Judge William Briggs and the late Judge Robert Hockensmith challenged Rex with the responsibility of developing the local CASA program from what was then little more than an outline. “Rex almost single handedly developed Allen County’s CASA program into an essential and respected institution in our juvenile justice system”, Pratt said.

Today the position of Allen County CASA Director was listed with the Allen County Department of Human Services. In addition to other requirements, applicants must have a Master’s Degree in Public Administration or Social Services or at least five year’s supervisory social services experience. Judge Pratt has appointed a search and screen committee to help him replace the retiring director. Pratt developed the committee to ensure that the successful applicant is a representative voice of the diverse Allen County community. The search and screen committee is chaired by attorney Suzan Rutz of the Helmke Beams law firm. She has had experience as a member of the recent judicial nominating committee. In addition to Rutz, Pratt named Retired Air Force Colonel Perry Collins; attorney Ashley Hand, Beckman Lawson, L.L.P.; attorney Sherry Hartzler, VanGilder and Trzynka, P.C; Detective Captain Deb Joyner of the Fort Wayne Police Department; Dr. Max Montesino, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at IPFW; Dr. Saneta Maiko, founder and Director of Crime Victim Care of Allen County; Steven Smith, manager of Fort Wayne Medical Surety and retiring Practice Administrator for the Fort Wayne Neurological Center; and John Ocken of Summit Radiology, P.C. and president of the CASA Coalition Board.

Applications will be accepted until the close of business on June 20, 2014. The Search and Screen Committee will interview applicants and recommend three candidates to the judge for his final appointment.

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