Rise in heroin usage creates need for more volunteers to help kids

Nearly half of abused, neglected and dependent cases last year in Huron County were heroin-related.
Cary Ashby
Feb 23, 2014


The CASA program at Huron County Juvenile Court handled 85 abused, neglected and dependent (DNA) cases last year and of those cases, 41 were directly related to heroin.

"Parents or caregivers were using," program director Mary Ann Lamb said.

Of the 44 non-heroin-related DNA cases, 19 cases related to the abuse of a substance other than heroin, such as alcohol or marijuana, she said. The remaining 25 cases had no apparent connection to substance abuse.

Five of the children in the 41 heroin-related cases were born addicted to the drug, Lamb said. There were three such incidents the previous year.

"That means within hours of being born, they showed signs of withdrawal. The babies have to be medicated -- sometimes for months -- to get back to normal," said Lamb, who started seeing a significant rise in heroin usage in this area about eight years ago.

With the rise of local, heroin-related DNA cases, Lamb said she has a bigger need for CASA volunteers. In 2013, there were 17 volunteers and this year, that number is down to 12.

"Ideally, I could use up to 30 volunteers. I've never had that many," Lamb said.

CASA stands for court-appointed special guardians. The Huron County program started in 1989 under the late Judge Thomas E. Heydinger. CASA began locally because the state of Ohio ruled that any child in a DNA case has to have a court advocate.

"The sprout of it started in the 1970s in Seattle, Washington," Lamb said. "About half of the Ohio counties do the CASA model like we do."

Since there usually are more cases than there are CASA volunteers, Lamb handles any cases that aren't assigned. She averages 30 to 40 cases annually.

"A case is a child. A family could have five children and I call that five cases," Lamb explained.

A CASA volunteer is a member of the community who undergoes about 30 hours of training.

"Once they are appointed to that child, they are guardians ad litem, which really is guardian of the case. They are the guardians of the case while the case is pending," Lamb said.

Volunteers must be at least 21 years old and have their high-school diploma or GED. The person also must pass screens related to the FBI, sex offenders and Sacwis, a database about children.

A CASA volunteer does what Lamb refers to as the "necessary leg work" in a case. That includes attending various hearings and gathering enough information to make a recommendation to the judge about the child's best interest. The first report given to the court covers about three months of investigation.

"They put together a report every six months until that case is done. ... Writing and speaking skills are very important," Lamb said.

Lamb was asked what characteristics a person needs to be an effective CASA volunteer.

"A person who can't not do something for children," was her immediate response.

"They are drawn to services or agencies who work with children," Lamb added. "You've got to have courage; you have to have a spine."

An effective volunteer has good "people skills" and isn't afraid to go into a stranger's home.

"You have to build a rapport with children and parents," Lamb said. "If you have that package, you're made for CASA."

For further information and to obtain an information packet, call Lamb at (419) 663-2525 ext. 235.


Your neighbor

Sounds like something that needs to be turned into paying jobs.


I can just see future headlines. " Heroin addicted kid steals from his CASA volunteer.

You know it will happen.


What is Herion?


Same thing as heroin only with the O and I turned around .. I corrected it, smart mouth, happy now? Horse, White China, Chiva etc.

How about heroine? same thing as hero only in feminine form.


Wow... I haven't been called a smart mouth since 'ole grannies time around the farm. Either you're showing your age or you're to dumb to come up with something better. Orrrrrr......since you know some other slang for the name you are a (former)user and only have a couple of the "smart cells" left and were afraid of using them up too fast...Nah..I doubt that...I don't see any smart cells in you present or future self...


Hey TWAT! if you've been on here any length of time at all, you'd know damn well what I think about druggies and drunks ..

Since when Do you gotta use the crap to know the street names .. are you that much of a 'tard? Born in 1965 old age of 48 years.

Watched cop shows of 70's where the street names were common also it was taught in school, didn't have internet then. Actually had to crack a book back then, D'bag Fface P***K. Hope your Granny kicked your A$$ a few times. Plus, I'm not in the habit of calling names here unless idiots such as yourself initiate it, asswipe.

There better now, punk?


Awww...petereyes83...don't get angry...I can tell you watched those '70's shows..isn't that what the coppers used call the perps? Punks? Really? You can do better than that! How about you a**muncher? Huh, d*kbreath? or maybe you're a polesmoker? See? Come on! use your last 70's cells and think up something better than "punk" or d'bag! Really? Maybe you should graduate to 80's copper shows and update your beautiful language. Sounds to me your feelings are hurt over herion..I mean HEROIN...see how easy that is you d**k with ears...


Hurt your feelings, did I?

I knew you were going to be stupid enough, to think I was a man .. ha ha. Why? Because women aren't allowed to watch cop shows? Who cares about TV in the 80's -- it was crap and I was too busy working to watch it.

Really? You ASSume too much Because of a TYPO? Check your own.


I hope that you are not any neighbor of mine some people help because it's the right thing to do and as for starryeyes83 you need help.....do you think these babies asked to be born with an illness some people should really think before they open their mouth!


Pull your Stupid A$$ out of the sand. Since when is CASA restricted to only babies? They go into a house, with older kids or parents there, who are still doing drugs and get ripped off.

I know that for a FACT, had it happen to my cousin who lives out in Portland. She also had damage done to her vehicle. That's the "reward " she got for trying to "help".

I'm not a bleeding heart like you, I make a general statement and because YOU don't agree with me so that means according to you "I need help".

And just who the HELL are you, idiot -- Nothing!

Gee, do ya like being attacked? What's that know -it -all? Yeah, I didn't think so.

P.S. You need HELP with your run-on sentences, and don't assume everyone on here- lives in friggin' Norwalk.

Kottage Kat

You don't do it because you can, you do it because it is right.
Thank you to all who take on this much needed and worthy cause.


What a sad state of affairs when we as Americans need to take care of someone else's kids because they chose to do drugs. If they loved their children they would do anything in their power to change their life. If these children are ever put up for adoption, then the adoptive parents will have no idea what they will have to deal with later on down the road. Call me what you will, but something needs to change and it is the ones who do drugs.


"Not afraid to go into a stranger's house". I think it is a lot to ask of a volunteer. I think we are all concerned about infants, babies, children and teens who are in this situation through no fault of their own. I am not sure volunteers should be put in a situation of entering these homes and incurring the wrath of parents who have or might lose custody of a child. Especially in a small town where everyone knows who you are and where you live.


Agreed! These should be paying jobs. As far as these junkie parents go, they should not have custody of their children if that's the life they choose. Why would anyone want their kids to see that kind of stuff?!


A lot of these comments , sum up the heart (less ness) , greed and self centered people that make up this great country we call home. Drugs, alcohol, and bad parents isn't nothing new, these problems have always existed. With social media, internet, and the media just now getting involved it has become more public. It has seemed to shift from the 80 's when it was crack, and in 00 when it was prescription pills , and now its heroin. This should definitely be a paying job, and even as a volunteer why would a person be scared to have to talk or enter the parents homes? Thats just another example of the state of fear, and seclusion that people live in. People use to know everyone on there street, and would play cards, and BBQ with them. Now you might not even no your neighbor, let alone hung out with them. People have become reclusive and obsessed with greed, careers, and reality TV. Very few people even care about these kids , and a few some how twist this article into these kids being a threat to the volunteer. This is a sad sad state that we are in these days. Get, a clue, a heart, and spine and maybe even a voice.


Go right ahead AEversole. Step up and volunteer. Put YOUR heart where your mouth is. Seems all you are worried about is bad mouthing all the rest of us in the real world. You love to trash local law enforcement for doing their job, want to save all the junkies of the world and now you want to foster all the junkies kids too. Well step right up. I am sure the the line is not that long.


Where's the "like" button?