by Tia Arthur, Case Coordinator for Monroe County CASA, Jordy’s Handler
When Jordy joined the CASA family in December 2016, he became the first courthouse facility dog to be housed by a CASA program in Indiana. CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a federally mandated volunteer-driven program whose role is to advocate for children who are involved in legal proceedings through The Department of Child Services due to being victims of abuse and/or neglect.
The purpose of Jordy’s work is to provide neutral support to these children during stressful legal proceedings in Monroe County, Indiana. Not only does Jordy visit with children in the lobby outside the courtroom, but he also lays at their feet during the hearing to provide comfort and help them say what they need to the Judge.
Jordy’s role is to serve as an ambassador of CASA. He offers comfort and mitigates anxiety for children in the Prosecutor’s Office, where he assists children who have to participate in depositions and testify in criminal trials. Additionally, he participates in weekly programming at the local emergency youth shelter, youth delinquency hearings and day reporting programming, and the local child advocacy center where children are subject to forensic interviews and medical exams when they are alleged victims of sexual abuse or severe physical abuse.
A child in Monroe County may encounter Jordy in multiple environments, which helps the child feel more relaxed and leaves them with a more positive feeling about what they are dealing with at such a young age. The effect of unconditional support Jordy provides to kids can be subtle or overt; nevertheless, it’s effective! A 16-year old boy may not want to reach down and dote on Jordy, but he glances down at him or rubs his leash in his hand to self-soothe, he asks if Jordy can come to the next hearing. The disposition of a 13-year old girl completely changes when she sees Jordy coming down the hallway, as she runs to him and immediately begins to style the tuft of hair on his head. They’ve been through some “stuff” together. She sits next to him on the floor petting him in a repetitive motion as she talks about the dogs she once had. She recalls funny things they did and asks if Jordy does funny things like that.
It’s time to go into the hearing and Jordy follows her in, waiting for her to choose her seat. She lets Jordy go under the table and positions herself with care to ensure he is comfortable. She holds the leash and rubs it as she listens to the Judge talk about what will happen to her and why she isn’t able to go home. She looks down at Jordy when the discussion is too difficult to hear, she pets him. When the hearing is over, she takes time to say “Thank you, Jordy,” and “Goodbye Jordy,” while she gives him hugs and makes sure that he will be at her next hearing. Jordy minimizes trauma for the most vulnerable population in our community.
Read the story about Jordy published by Bloom Magazine – Click Here!
Tia & Jordy