Harmony House/CASA will now be know under a new name: Family Advocates. It is a new name to reflect the direction and growth that the program has made in the last 25 years according to Family Advocates Chief Executive Officer Karen Biernacki.
The program has gone through many changes over the last 25 years, beginning as La Porte County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in 1990 when Kathy Bernel trained three volunteers. One of those first volunteers was Karen, becoming the program's director a year later.
In 1999, a new supervised exchange program was created and housed at 1005 Michigan Avenue in La Porte called Harmony House. In 2004, the agency became known as Harmony House/CASA of La Porte County, Inc. Two years later, a CASA program was established in Pulaski County. Then in 2013, the juvenile court began appointing CAYA (Court Appointed Youth Advocate) volunteers to youths involved in juvenile court, providing mentoring to the youth during the probation process.
Although the name has changed over the years, and changes again now, the goal has always been the same and will continue to be the same: advocacy focused on the best interest of children while fostering healthy, positive and permanent family relationships.
"We are looking into the future to expand our services for families and kids to make them successful while they are under the jurisdiction of the court," the Chief Executive Officer said. "Providing them some resources, some advocacy and some support so that we can help them be successful families and be successful community members."
The name change is important because it they want the community to look towards them as advocates for families. This includes children who are abused and neglected, youth who are in delinquency court, the parents who are struggling to get their kids back in their home, or the parent that is struggling with substance abuse or struggling to keep a job.
The new Family Advocate name lets everyone know exactly what the agency is about which is families and making them right again.